Thieves have ransacked a cricket club storeroom and stolen all the cutting equipment – just three weeks before the start of the new season.
The break-in at Eckington Cricket Club, Staveley Lane, Eckington, has left groundsmen with a race against time to find new mowers and cutters to get the outfield and wicket ready for the new season.
They also have to repair part of the outfield which was damaged after some equipment was dumped and set alight by the raiders, who struck on Monday night.
The culprits escaped with around £12,000 worth of equipment, including specialist mowers, strimmers and shavers, after driving across a field and smashing through a fence to reach the cricket club store room.
Cricket club member John Sorsby appealed for other cricket clubs with spare equipment to donate their items until replacements are bought.
The club’s first team got promoted to the Derbyshire Premier League last season and are due to play their first match of the season next month.
Mr Sorsby said: “It seems like they knew what they wanted – they have taken all the cutting gear. Everything they could take they did, everything they couldn’t they burnt.
“We are really disappointed because it has left us with a race against time to try to get the outfield and wicket ready for the start of the new season, which is just three weeks away.
“It is a specialised job and you need the proper gear.
“This wasn’t vandalism – they drove across a field and through a fence to get to the lock-up to avoid being seen.”
John said the cricket club plays an important role in community life in Eckington.
“The first team got promoted to the Derbyshire Premier League last season and we have a thriving junior section with teams from U7s all the way up, so we were really looking forward to the start of the new season,” he added.
“We also do a lot of work in school holding cricket festivals and things like that, so there will be a lot of people disappointed at this theft.”
Renishaw Golf Club has donated some cutting equipment for the outfield.
n Any clubs able to donate equipment to prepare the wicket should call chairman Andy Vaughan on 07904 926313 or first team captain Tom Dawson on 07949 372325.
n Anyone with information on the break-in should call Derbyshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.