Sidmouth Cricket Club working to find ball catching solution after girl nearly hit at weekend

Sidmouth cricket club from the esplanade. Ref shs 25 18TI 5948. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth cricket club from the esplanade. Ref shs 25 18TI 5948. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Preventing serious injury from flying cricket balls remains an important issue, says the town’s cricket club chairman following claims a 13-year-old girl was nearly hit by a cricket ball at the weekend.

A resident, who asked not to be named, said a ball narrowly missed his granddaughter’s head by inches in the first of two encounters on Saturday.

He said the family had been sitting on two benches near the toilets on the seafront and after a second ball bounced over them, moved back into town.

“Netting is down the side by the hotel and should also be along the front before someone is seriously hurt,” he said.

“It is just a danger; you cannot blame the cricketers, they need to get as many runs as they can and if they hit a six, they hit a six. They just need to have something to stop the balls causing damage to anyone or anything.”

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Sidmouth Cricket Club says it has been an issue for a number of years and that it was working closely with a number of organisations to prevent balls going over the boundary onto the seafront.

Neil Gamble, chairman of Sidmouth Cricket, Tennis and Croquet Club, said: “Heavy bats, better pitches and T-20 cricket have all contributed to more cricket balls being hit beyond the boundary.

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“The club remains deeply concerned about health and safety and hopes it can very soon go ahead and erect fencing to prevent cricket balls for landing on members of the public anywhere adjacent to the ground and on the Esplanade and beach.”

The club applied for planning permission in March 2017 to erect netting to prevent balls from going beyond the boundary.

East Devon District Council [EDDC] and English Heritage suggested the netting could be erected along the south side of the ground on condition that it was taken down after every match. The club withdrew the application in the autumn.

Determined to solve the issue, the club commissioned a survey earlier this year after taking advice from the England Cricket Board (ECB).

The report has suggested a minimum barrier of six metres high at various points on the ground, a metre higher than originally proposed.

Mr Gamble that the club hopes to secure EDDC’s support to the ECB and Sport England endorsed scheme.

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