FOR MANY, the Tour de France will be the greatest sporting event in Britain since hosting the Olympic Games in 2012 – but the event’s arrival in Yorkshire has left one cricket club completely stumped.
Dales Cricket Club, who are based in Reeth, are due to visit Barningham Cricket Club in a Darlington and District League clash this weekend, but many of the club’s players cannot travel to the game as the Tour de France’s route will mean Reeth residents will be unable to leave the village.
The club, despite attempts to reschedule the game to no avail, are determined to fulfil the fixture and have made an appeal for any cricketers outside of the village who can travel to Barningham to turn out on Saturday.
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Secretary and treasurer Pete Mckay said: “Knowing this was the Tour de France day I tried some months ago to get the league to allow us to rearrange. They refused in March citing that allowing such a change would set a precedent “Other teams have had their games rearranged, in the NYSD league, but unfortunately our request was refused by our league.
“The route encircles the cricket ground. And it encircles the village.We can't get out of the village. It's that simple. We're snookered, really.”
Roads around Reeth will be closed from 10pm tonight and will not re-open until the route has passed, which will be late tomorrow evening. However, the club’s captain and other players do not reside in the village and can make the game, but Mr Mckay hopes that some willing volunteers can make up the numbers.
He said: “We want to fulfil the fixture so we are hoping that we can get some players from outside the catchment area. We can register them up to an hour before the start of the match. As long as they're warm and breathing, we'll consider them. Any standard will be acceptable.
“I'm surprised and disappointed it has had to come to this. It's left us having to concede the game. The league president agrees that we can't get to the game, yet there's nothing that can be done about it.”
Darlington and District League president Brian Jones admitted that the situation was unfortunate, and confirmed that the league would not punish Dales for not fulfilling the fixture.
"Within our constitution, there is no facility to play games on any day other than a Saturday," said Mr Jones.
"Before the fixtures had been published we received the request from Dales to play an away game, which we were happy to accommodate, but since then, it has become clear that many of Dales' players would not be able to leave the village.
"In 50 years of the Darlington and District League, we have never allowed clubs to play on other days as this would have an effect on the integrity of the competitions.
"It's very unfortunate, but we don't feel we can accommodate them any further.
"Usually, a club would be penalised five points for not fulfilling a fixture, but if that were to happen on Saturday, we won't be applying that to Dales.
"It's unfortunate that one of the greatest sporting occasions would have such an unforeseen knock-on effect for a cricket club."
Any willing players can contact Mr Mackay on 01748-884675 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.