UK county teams bowled over by dale's 'amazing' cricket grounds
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
JUNIOR cricket teams from across the country have been bowled over by some of Teesdale’s top grounds.
Eight teams visited the dale last week as part of the BA County Cricket Festival for under 13s.
These included teams from London, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Cleveland and Northumberland. The festival was due to take place last year but was postponed because of coronavirus lockdowns. Matches were played at Barnard Castle School as well as at Raby Castle.
Norfolk Cricket Board’s team had the pleasure of playing their first two matches at Raby.
Coach John Ewart said: “It is amazing – one of the most picturesque we have played on. It’s also a very good wicket with a fast outfield.”
He said the only equally “picture postcard” ground his team had played on was Norfolk’s Holkham Hall, which also has a stately home as a backdrop.
The condition of the pitch suited batsmen and the Norfolk team put on 160 runs in 40 overs during their first match against London’s
Elite Cricket Performance Academy. The academy players were able to chase down the impressive target.
Steve Caygill, from Raby Castle Cricket Club, said: “Everyone is blown away with the ground. One lady said she had taken a photograph of it and sent it to her dad in Australia.
“The pitch is doing well – it has pace and bounce. We have a terrific crowd in today.”
He praised the many volunteers who had worked tireless to get the pitch perfect for the festival. Despite most Covid-19 restrictions being lifted before the festival, officials made sure hand-sanitiser was available and the changing rooms were closed.
Although the ground and its magnificent backdrop are spectacular, Mr Caygill said some of the facilities are still in need of work, and negotiations are underway with Raby Estate to improve these.
He said: “We are a bit hamstrung by the pavilion – it is 40 years old and it is too small. When I was a lad we had a club bag with everyone’s kit in it – these days everyone has a bag the size of a club bag.”
Two more festivals, for under-14 and under-15 county teams, are due to take place at the same venues later this summer.