Judge pulls stumps on village cricketers

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'RAIN stopped play' is usually the only interruption to the traditional picture of cricket on the village green. However, this weekend a new term - judge stopped play - will need to be added to cricketing vocabulary after a court injunction put paid to the sound of leather on willow and the sight of men clad in white flannel working up a thirst.

The village XI at Jordans, Buckinghamshire, were clean bowled when a local resident, whose home fronts the cricket square, won the injunction against them. David Lacey claims his family and property were in danger from flying cricket balls. Judges at Slough County Court agreed and gave the judicial equivalent of a raised finger, packing the team off to the pavilion.

The injunction secured by Mr Lacey prevents Jordans cricket club from playing on the village green, ending a tradition of at least 60 years.

Mr Lacey, 46, started his action after a flying cricket ball just missed his head last year when he was opening his garage. He wanted a 25ft barrier of mesh nets erected in front of his house but the club was unwilling to pay.

It offered to compromise by providing temporary protective screens for his windows and suggested a code of conduct to players. Home and visiting players were informed that big hits to the boundary in the vicinity of the Lacey residency would be declared void.

Mr Lacey said: 'Their idea of a code of conduct we find laughable. The idea of grilles over our windows was also unacceptable because it would be like living in a prison.'

Steve Parker, team chairman, said: 'I think it is very sad. I grew up with my father playing on the village green. The only thing Mr Lacey would accept was a slight lowering of the cricket net in front of his house.'

The team will use a pitch four miles outside the village. They hope to lease a new pitch close to the village green but well out of range of the Lacey household.