Lancashire cricket fans criticise surprise decision to play at Sedbergh…in Cumbria

Credit: James T W Towill

Lancashire Cricket Club members have criticised the controversial decision to choose Sedbergh, which is in Cumbria, as an outground for the new season.

Lancashire have overlooked Blackpool and Southport to choose Sedbergh School as the county’s first new outground since Lytham St Annes in 1985.

As Emirates Old Trafford is hosting the World Cup this summer, Lancashire have to take two matches to outgrounds.

Liverpool was already confirmed as an outground in November and Southport was expected to be announced as the other.

However, the club’s decision to choose Sedbergh has been questioned by fans amid concerns about the lack of accessible public transport to the town.

Director of Cricket Paul Allott Pic. Matt Clayton

Sedbergh is a small Cumbrian town 10 miles east of Kendal but sits just within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Paul Allott, director of cricket at Lancashire, defended the choice to use Sedbergh School and said there wasn’t any suitable grounds for first-class cricket in the county.

He said: ”We have had issues with Southport over the last 12 months. We had a second XI game abandoned there last summer after one day, a Kia Super League match received the worst marks in the country for the pitch there, and there were significant issues regards the ground and pitch preparation for the Worcestershire game last year – the real hard work for that game was done by our assistant groundsmen in the 10 days prior to the match.”

But former Blackpool Cricket Club player and Lancashire CCC member, John Marsh, slammed the choice of venue. He said: ”I think it’s an absolutely ridiculous decision. It’s a school. They won’t be able to get many people there. You can’t get there by public transport. It’s not even in Lancashire.”

“Given the immediate past record of Southport, I didn’t think it was the right decision to go there. They accept that, we are going to work hard with them in the coming months to make sure we can stage games there in the future.

 “Blackpool has its own challenges in terms of drainage, which is poor at the moment, and we are not sure we can get a pitch there that will last four days, and the infrastructure – dressing rooms etc – are not up to first-class standard. So we can’t go there.

Marsh said: ” I can’t believe he said that because they go to Liverpool , they’ve been to Southport and also Blackpool in the past.”

”If the Sedbergh game had been announced before I paid my membership fee, I might not have bothered renewing it.”

Marsh does not believe the Sedbergh game will be a success. ”I can’t see them playing there again because I don’t think it will be very successful as people can’t get there.”

David Lever, secretary of the Palace Shield, doesn’t believe the facilities at Sedbergh are any better than they are at Blackpool or Southport.

”I’ve been there and I cannot believe the facilities are any better. It’s very difficult to get there also.

”They should play in Lytham or in that area, not take it miles away out of the county.”

It’s a huge blow for Blackpool, which has hosted Royal London One Day Cup matches for each of the last four years and also Southport which had hoped to host first team matches this season.

Graham Lawton, the chairman of Fylde Cricket Club’s grounds committee, said: ”I was very surprised. It’s not in Lancashire for one thing. It’s a big kick in the teeth for both Blackpool and Southport, to be honest.”

He added: ”Blackpool’s and Southport’s facilities have been more than good enough for a number of years.

”The money is important for their survival and it’s very disappointing. There aren’t any hotels in Sedbergh, it’s impractical.”