Fire at 'the cradle of cricket'

The pavilion of an historic cricket club has burned down leaving members devastated.

Firefighters were called to Hambledon Cricket Club in Ridge Meadow, Brook Lane, just before 9pm on Sunday to find the wooden building alight.

They battled for three hours to get the fire under control but half the pavilion was lost.

It will come as a huge blow to cricket fans around the world who know the club as the 'cradle of cricket'.

Founded almost 300 years ago, fans from around the world still make the pilgrimage to the club's original home in Broadhalfpenny Down, just opposite the Bat and Ball pub.

Hambledon councillor Tony Coates said: 'I'm so shocked. I was playing cricket there just yesterday afternoon with lots of other villagers and we had a lovely time. I think everyone is going to be very upset, this is a famous ground and its where the actual cricket club play.

'We need to do everything we can now to help them get this back up and running again.'

The two crews from Waterlooville and Droxford finished fighting the flames at 11.45pm.

Laura Small, a spokeswoman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue. said the cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Hambledon Cricket Club is known as the home of cricket.

Set up in 1750, it became the most famous club in the country.

The modern-day rules of cricket were set down there. These include length bowling and the addition of a third stump, and the regulation of bat width. The club's home used to be at Broadhalfpenny Down, opposite the Bat and Ball pub but that is now owned by Winchester College.

The club's new home is in Ridge Meadow, Brook Lane which is also home to a number of youth teams.