Ambitious plans have been unveiled to bring cricket back to Petworth Park.
And on Saturday (July 9) they are being launched with an event to encourage supporters including players, juniors, parents, volunteers and sponsors to sign up to the project.
The campaign is headed by Petworth Business Association chairman Alex Rees.
Passionate about the sport, he has been involved most of his life as a player and captaining sides. He is also a qualified groundsman and a level 2 coach.
Cricket in Petworth Park has a history dating back to the early 1800s, with five recorded first class matches in the 1840s when Petworth Park Cricket Club (PPCC) was briefly a major team.
“In recent years it saw a decline in players and matches, until it stopped and the pitch has now fallen into disrepair,” said Alex.
“I have lived in Petworth for five years and had a business here for eight. I have always walked across the park and seen the potential for reviving cricket there.”
The revived PPCC has a five year vision and pivotal is attracting juniors to provide a strong base for the future: “The first focus is to establish a junior academy and in the first year we will play under nines ‘quick cricket’ adding a new age group each year.
“As soon as the pitch is ready to play on grass we hope to have an adult side.”
The Sussex Cricket Board’s groundsmen have visited to test the ground and give advice on restoration.
“As soon as we have the report, we will know what has to be done and start fund raising. If we do the work next Spring we hope to be able to play on grass in 2018.
“In the mean time we are planning an artificial wicket for the under 9s.”
The Sussex Cricket Foundation has already run sessions at Petworth Primary School and the school has put its weight behind the project.
“We have the support of Petworth Park Joint Sports Association, Petworth Primary School, Sussex Cricket Foundation, local businesses, and individuals who all see the potential in this exciting project,” said Alex.
On Saturday there will be a launch barbecue from 4pm-6pm at the ground including games of cricket, “we hope to see as many people as possible there,” said Alex.
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