World's first underground cricket match planned at Honister

Honister Slate Mine will host a worldfirst this week when two village cricket teams play a one-off Christmas match – deep inside a Lake District mountain.

Wickets for the Extreme Underground Cricket fixture will be pitched at 11am on Thursday (December 5) in a cavern at 600m (2,000ft).

It’s a fixture that has been postponed since it was first planned two years ago; but the owners of England’s last working slate mine and the two teams are confident nothing will stop them this time.

Battling for the trophy will be the village of Threlkeld - whose team have searched high and low for a new wicket since they were flooded out of their home ground 18 months ago - and Caldbeck, whose team is high on a fellside and dry.

Michael Webster, Threlkeld club treasurer, came up with the original idea.

He said: “The cavern is ready, the lights are on and nothing is going to stop the world’s first game of Underground Cricket. I have to say that testing out our skills in extreme locations for the past 12 months to make our fundraising calendar, does not guarantee us an advantage underground.”

Owner of Honister Slate Mine Jan Wilkinson said: “When we heard Michael’s idea we were bowled over and hit for six, to pardon the pun. But we’re used to pushing the boundaries at Honister so it’s game on and cricket like you’ve never seen it before.”

It’s not the first time two amateur teams in the Eden Valley League have gone head to head - the inaugural Extreme Cricket match was held on Latrigg on Boxing Day in 2010, with Threlkeld beating Braithwaite by seven runs.

This week’s match starts at 11am, with players including farmers, shopkeepers, caravan site owners, outdoor pursuit instructors and cafe owners. The winning side will take home a trophy made from slate from the mine.

The venue for the World’s first is Honister Slate Mine, a network of 11 miles of underground tunnels inside Fleetwith Pike.

The family-run business is situated at the top of one of England’s highest mountain passes and between the remote but stunning valleys of Borrowdale and Buttermere in The Lake District.

The rules are as follows: there will be six overs of six balls each per innings. Each bowler limited to one over maximum. Batsmen retire on 25 and a scoring shot.

How to score: everything goes i.e. can be caught off any surface (other than the ground), no boundaries, run everything. In the event of a tie, it’s wickets lost and if that’s equal then a bowl out.

Threlkeld’s previous Extreme Cricket locations include:

• on a frozen wicket at Sprinkling Tarn below Great End

• from a gyrocopter as they played on a disused railway at Mosedale Viaduct

• on Shepherd’s Crag, Borrowdale

• on a mountain, Blencathra

• on Rampsholme Island in the middle of Derwentwater

• at the ancient and mysterious Castlerigg Stone Circle

• on the Lodore Jetty, Derwentwater

• on a steam engine “Sir Tom” at Threlkeld Quarry

• in Market Square, Keswick

• on the via ferrata (iron way) at Honister Slate Mine

• on stage at the Theatre by the Lake

• underwater in the River Derwent

The results of thse matches can be seen in a A3 calendar featuring 12 stunning photographs which can be bought via from the website www.rainstoppedplay.org

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