Cricket Pitch Plea
Wednesday 10th April 2019 @ 12:03 by Mark Phillip

Ashton Ladysmith Cricket Club is appealing to the local community to help raise funds for CCTV after the pitch was vandalised for a second time in the space of a year.

Heartless vandals dug up more than 150 holes across the club’s wickets between 5pm on Tuesday and 2pm on Thursday of last week.

With seven of the ten wickets severely damaged, the club now faces an anxious wait to see if the pitch will be ready in time for the opening clash against Newton Heath on Saturday, April 20.

David Gaskin, a first team batsman and club house manager, has been left devastated by the attack and doesn’t understand the motives behind it. Speaking to Reporter Sport, he said: “Similar to last year, the wickets have been attacked and we don’t know why.

“A pick axe was used on two wickets last year, but a spade has done the damage this time across a much larger area.

“To try and prevent it from happening again, we’ve launched a Facebook donation page to raise money for CCTV and the police came round last night (Tuesday) to take details. They’ll be sending letters to the local residents to ask if they’ve seen anything. The next best thing we can do is to get the CCTV put up.”

Despite the hammer blow, David said the club has enjoyed a good pre-season and the players can’t wait for the opening game in 10 days’ time. “Luckily we have a few remaining wickets which we can hopefully use for the first few weeks” he said.

“Hopefully, by that point, the other wickets will have recovered and we can continue to play on the central wicket.

“We should do a little bit better this season. We’ve recruited well and so we’re going to have three teams instead of two. The first team will be competing in Greater Manchester Division Four East; the 2nd XI are in Division Five East; and the 3rdXI will be playing in Division One on Sunday.

“I think we have a good chance of getting promoted this season with the squad we’ve assembled – we’re all excited to get started despite what’s happened.”

David, who regards himself as a batsman, is aiming to score 600 runs this season.

He will be supported by captain and bowler, Khaliq ur Rehman.

The pair are hoping to deliver promotion but know it won’t be easy – especially with the introduction of the four new sides; United Stars 1stXI, Stayley 2ndXI, Thornham 2ndXI, and Friarmere 2ndXI.

Of the Greater Manchester structure, which was introduced in 2016, David said: “I like the league as it increases competitiveness. 

“After a few years every club appears to have settled into the right division, so you know you’re in for a good game every week and you’ll never enter a game thinking you’re going to get battered. You don’t know what the outcome will be every time you turn up, so it’s refreshing and I like it.

“The travelling is a lot better than what we were previously used to. We had to travel to the Bury area and even Wigan, which was the furthest distance, so this is really easy. It might be a little bit harder in the Premier Division, but in our division it’s all very centralised and local.”

As we went to press, £276 had been raised towards the £400 required to purchase the CCTV. If you would like to donate, head to the following link: