By Charles Randall
24 April 2014
The long-established London club Winchmore Hill wrote to residents living adjacent to the Paulin Ground recently on the vexed question of flying cricket balls.
The letter warned residents that the club would not accept liability for balls hit out of the ground because there was no reliable way of preventing the danger and a compensation fund would be too costly. Netting or a fence would have to be “unrealistically high” to make a difference, and planting conifer trees would take years to grow high enough.
The club's chairman Paul Chapman told the Enfield Advertiser newspaper that the club sent the letter after taking legal advice and after meeting Enfield Council and an insurance firm. “We understand the upset caused if a cricket ball has caused damage,” he said. “There are financial constraints on the running of the club due to the high costs of looking after the grounds and facilities and providing sport for large numbers. Many of our neighbours would object to high fences, netting or restricted views. We will continue to look for a solution that has the agreement of all parties.”
One Firs Lane resident said that cricket balls would occasionally fly into the nearby road, and a neighbour claimed his car and a door and window in his property had been damaged.
Another neighbour said he had found a cricket ball in his loft last year, apparently having landed there after smashing roof tiles. He told the newspaper: “The club have refused to do anything about it and I believe a small claims court would find in our favour, but I have not had the time to pursue legal action.”
Over the years cricket clubs up and down the country have strayed into the legal minefield of flying six-hits. It seems to be acknowledged that reasonable steps have to be taken to limit the danger, but issues have varied case by case.
On the field Winchmore Hill last season became the first club to be relegated from the Middlesex League top flight the year after winning the title. The 2012 triumph was the club's maiden success, and in 2013 Hampstead won the crown for the first time as power shifted from the previously dominant Ealing.