A VILLAGE cricket club is counting the cost after vandals caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to its junior pitch.

Police were called after school books were set alight in the middle of the plastic astro pitch at Corfe Mullen cricket club.

Chairman John Bolt told the Daily Echo: “This was such a silly, senseless act. The pitch is unplayable and now we must find the resources to replace it for next year.

“Like many clubs we operate solely on membership subscriptions; we don’t have sponsors or contingency funds and all our coaches are volunteers. Everything we raise goes back into cricket.”

Junior cricket has been played in the village for more than 60 years. In 2009 the old artificial pitch was replaced at a cost of £7,000, thanks to contributions from members and the Corfe Mullen Sports Association.

John added: “This year it has also been used by Dorset Cricket as a venue for some of their county and district matches. Up to 10 games have been played every week for all ages and abilities during the summer months. Over the years young players have made it through the ranks to play for the club as adults.

“It is particularly hard to take as this year the club was awarded the coveted ECB Club Mark; a reward for the hard work of parents, coaches and the committee.”

Youth co-ordinator Dane Robson said: “This is a big blow to everything we are trying to achieve. Fortunately the season has come to an end which gives us all some breathing space to find the resources to see if we can repair or replace the pitch in time for next year.

Club welfare officer Nick Jordan urged anyone with information about the attack to contact the police.

He added: “We would like to hear from any individual, business or organisation willing to help us restore the pitch.”

If you can help phone Nick on 07811 041642.

A police spokesman said: “We received a report of criminal damage on the astro turf pitch on Sunday, August 19. A small fire was started, possibly caused by an aerosol can.”