A PICTURESQUE cricket ground has fallen victim to criminal damage - for the third time in just over a month.

An unknown vehicle has driven onto and around Hyde Cricket pitch - near Fordingbridge - seemingly for no reason, and subsequently wrecking the outfield with deep tyre tracks.

The first incident took place on Christmas Eve, the second on Christmas Day, and the third on Saturday, January 30.

The incidents have been reported to both Hampshire County Council (who own the land) and Hampshire Police.

Damage to Hyde Cricket pitch

Damage to Hyde Cricket pitch

'The latest incident by far the worst'

The pitch is supposed to be protected from vehicular access by a ditch along the edge of the road, but the club say this ditch is now “ineffective at preventing vehicles from getting onto the field due to years of erosion and back-filling”.

A statement from the club said it was “hopeful that the authorities could maintain and repair this ditch to prevent further acts of vandalism”, but to date “nothing has been done”.

It added: “The latest incident (January 30) is by far the worst and is not only jeopardising Hyde Cricket Club from playing this season due to a ruined outfield but is also ruining the field for Hyde Infants School as they use it for games”.

Hampshire Police confirmed it had received a report of criminal damage at Hyde cricket ground on Hyde Common.

It said: “A vehicle has driven across the pitch causing significant damage. The incident is believed to have happened sometime between 5pm on Saturday January 30 and 9am Sunday January 31.

“Were you in the area at the time? Did you see what happened?

“Anyone with information is asked to call 101, quoting 44210038008. Alternatively, you can contact independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Damage to Hyde Cricket pitch

Damage to Hyde Cricket pitch

'Saddened and angry'

Ann Sevier, chairman of Hyde Parish Council, said she was “saddened and angry over the wanton damage”. She added: “This part of the Common is used by the cricket club and as a play area for our Primary School.

“We are informed that Hampshire County Council will be coming to re-dig the boundary ditches to stop the vandals from doing further damage and we are expecting this to be done as a priority.”

Hampshire County Councillor Edward Herron said he was “disappointed” to hear of the damage and that the ditch to prevent access would be deepened as soon as possible.

Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Recreation, Heritage, Countryside and Rural Affairs, Councillor Edward Heron, said: “We are very disappointed to learn that the cricket pitch at Hyde Common, which is land owned by the County Council, was vandalised and damaged by a vehicle over the weekend.

“We are working closely with the Cricket Club and Parish Council, and are preparing to deepen the ditch along the edge of the road as soon as we can get the right equipment to site – hopefully this will ensure that only authorised vehicles are able to access the pitch in future.”