MINDLESS campers lit a bonfire smack in the middle of a prep school’s cricket square, just a week before the season got under way.
The two-foot by three-foot patch of scorched grass marks the spot where campers set a collection of logs and twigs alight on St Bede’s Prep School cricket wicket in Whitbread Hollow near to the school.
Groundsman Mick Perkins, 50, said the careless campers left a trail of empty beer bottles, smashed glass and tent pegs in their wake after setting up camp on the weekend of April 16.
Mr Perkins, who has worked at the school for 23 years, said, “They dragged logs and twigs right out into the middle so it seems to me they thought: ‘Oh there’s a cricket square.’
“It seems more on purpose than by accident, but then again if they didn’t know anything about cricket then they wouldn’t have had a clue.”
Although the blaze was set plumb in the middle of the square and straddles two wickets, it should not affect play. Bowlers will not pitch the ball in that area as it would be too short.
There have been similar incidents in the past but campers have never used the delicate cricket square as their base, instead pitching their tents on the edge of the ground.
Headmaster Nicholas Bevington said, “We are very fortunate to live, work and be educated in such beautiful surroundings and we very much want the public to enjoy the setting, especially in the glorious sunshine. But we must all take responsibility for looking after the environment.
“Luckily, on this occasion, the pupils’ sports’ season has not been affected but, if it had, there would have been some very disappointed children and parents.”
Mr Perkins has relayed the affected ground with soil and replanted grass so the pitch will eventually recover.
The school’s cricket season got under way on Wednesday (April 27).