STATE-of-the-art practice facilities are to be developed at a Teesdale cricket club in time for the new season.

Hundreds of players, from under-11s to the first team regulars, will benefit from two new all-weather strips at Barnard Castle CC.

They will replace existing pitches at the club which are no longer fit for purpose.

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Development officer John Walker said the club was in the process of raising £19,000 to pay for the new practice area.

The club has already raised £10,000 through fundraising events and received a further £5,000 from Teesdale Action Partnership (Tap) following success in last November's public vote on which community groups should receive a slice of £38,000 Tap cash.

Mr Walker said a bid had been made to the County Durham Community Foundation in an effort to raise the final £4,000.

“We have had to start the project without the last bit of money due to the logistics involved.

“Work starts in mid-February and we want the new practice facilities to be ready for the first week in April,” he said.

Mr Walker said new all-weather pitches were needed to continue the development of cricketers at all levels.

“There are so many home games during the season, we are limited to how much we can practise on the field of play.

“The new pitches mean we will be able to have full blown practice while matches are going on or when the ground is unfit for play,” he said.

Barnard Castle CC boasts 150 members and operates junior teams at under-11, under-13, under-15 and under-17 level.

In addition there are three senior sides which play in the North Yorkshire South Durham league.

The club also hosts Durham county age group fixtures.

As well as improved practice facilities, the club is developing a new seating area in time for the coming season, cut out of the bank at one end of the ground.

This has been made possible thanks to a donation of £1,250 from the North Star Housing Group.

Mr Walker said this would ensure there were enough seats for spectators.

“For a first team game on a nice afternoon, we can get up to 200 people coming along throughout the day,” he said.