Vandal attack on wicket won't stop big cricket final
One of Northern Ireland cricket's blue riband events, the North West Senior Cup final, will go ahead this week despite vandals attacking the pitch in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Some sort of corrosive liquid was poured on the playing surface, badly damaging it.
Eglinton Cricket Club secretary John Pierce discovered the damage when he arrived at the club's Cottage Row grounds on the outskirts of the Co Londonderry village. He said the attack was senseless.
"When I pulled in I first noticed that the covers had been pulled apart and a corrosive substance had been poured on to the grass causing extensive damage.
"We've worked hard for the last four weeks to get the pitch in perfect order for the final and why people would want to carry out such an act of vandalism so close to the final between Donemana and Brigade is beyond me.
"The reaction of the local community, both cricket lovers and non-cricket lovers, has been inspiring and many volunteers have been working hard with us to try to restore the pitch in time for the prestige final.
"We expect 2,000 spectators for the two-day final, but hopefully what has happened here will encourage even more people to turn up," he said.
The PSNI has asked anyone with information about the incident, or anyone who noticed suspicious activity in the area, to contact them.
Eglinton Cricket Club has overcome past adversities and members say they are determined to do so again.
The club was almost forced to close back in 2008 when Derry City Council erected a children's play park next to its grounds, meaning it had to build a protective screen.
Then in 2010 vandals destroyed part of the pitch by pouring weedkiller over it, resulting in thousands of pounds worth of damage and loss of significant income from home games.
The final is set to be a close-fought match between Donemana and Brigade in a repeat of last year's showpiece, which the former won by five wickets.
Until now cricket has made the headlines for all the right reasons this summer with the return of The Ashes, which ignites a keen rivalry between England and Australia.
England won the first game by the narrowest of margins and has since taken a 2-0 lead in the five Test series.
STORY SO FAR
Cricket is a popular sport in the north west with a tradition of producing giant-killing results. In 1969 the West Indies were beaten by Ireland in Sion Mills. The tourists, including legendary batsman Clive Lloyd, were dismissed for just 25 runs, with Ireland's amateur team winning by nine wickets. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is an avid cricket fan.