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Village suffers in the heat without a drop of rain in all of July

Parched grass at the cricket green in the village of Odiham in Hampshire (PA)
Parched grass at the cricket green in the village of Odiham in Hampshire (PA)

The cricket club in one of Britain’s driest villages has had to water its wicket at least once a day and local farmers are having to spend significant sums on buying in food for their cattle, as the community copes with zero rainfall in July.

Odiham, a village in Hampshire, had no rain last month, according to the Met Office, with farmers, florists and the local cricket club forced to adapt to the parched conditions.

Cara Evans, bar and events manager for the Odiham and Greywell Cricket Club, said grounds officials have had to water the wicket at least once a day to ensure it is safe to play on the hardened ground.

She told the PA news agency: “The drought has meant that we’ve had to water that wicket so much more often than we would normally have to do, and to try and keep it green and safe to play on.

Summer weather Aug 8th 2022
Parched grass surround the welcome sign for Odiham in Hampshire (Ben Birchall/PA)

“The outfield is one story, but if the wicket is not safe and is too dry, the game doesn’t get played. So to try and keep that wicket green and at a safe level has been quite a pressure on our grounds team.”

She added: “You’ll generally find one of them up here at least every day and we try to water the pitch as much as possible.”

Although the drought has made playing the game more difficult, Ms Evans said the weather has helped raise interest in the game among locals.

However, Ms Evans said that there were concerns for the longer-term impact of the dry spell amid hosepipe bans.

“We are at the moment allowed to water our wicket but if they come in more stringent, is that going to be a, ‘No you can’t do that anymore’? In which case, does that mean we are going to have to cancel cricket games?” she added.

Summer weather Aug 8th 2022
Parched grass at the cricket green in the village of Odiham in Hampshire (PA/Ben Birchall)

When asked how she felt about the club being able to continue to use significant amounts of water when others in the village had to cut back, she said: “You walk around Odiham and there’s so many farmers and so many gardens that are kept so beautifully and we’re being allowed to keep our wicket green but other people aren’t and that’s difficult. That’s not fair to them.”

Meanwhile, a local farmer, who did not wish to be named, estimated he has had to spend 50% more on food for his cattle this year compared to 2021. His cows normally graze on the grass in his fields, but this has been unable to grow in the arid conditions.

He told PA that the weather “affects us in that the grass hasn’t grown at all, so that means we’re short of food and we have to buy in food,” adding that “it’s going to be a very costly thing” for the business.

He is also concerned about the risk of wildfire, adding: “You’ve just got to be very vigilant about fires and bottles lying around and things like that, or to try and stop it as best we can.”