The gentle thwack of leather on willow is for many the sound that defines an English summer, but it has become the subject of a bitter noise dispute between a cricket club and its neighbours.
Cricket has been played on the Darlington club's ground at Feethams since 1866. But residents of a new estate have taken exception to the "noise from bat on ball" and "the effort of batting and bowling" from the practice nets along the boundary.
A retrospective planning application has prompted a string of objections. Retired electrician David Elliott and wife Christine say the sound of bat on ball is like a "rifle going off" outside their £280,000 townhouse. Mr Elliott said " the cricket ground has four sides and only one has a set of new houses directly along its boundary- and that's where they decided to put the nets. It has ruined our lives. We have no peace and quiet" Tom Dennis, who lives next door with his partner, Becky, said "The sound of bat on ball is intrusive. It can't be right that the club is able to build a sporting facility within touching distance of our back gardens without consulting us"
Darlington Borough Council's planning committee deferred a vote for a site visit to check on noise levels. Principal planning officer said " We are trying to strike a balance between what we expect to take place on a cricket field and what people living next door reasonably expect from their quality of life"
Club chairman Brian Johnson said " We take the nets down in September and put them back up in mid April. They are not used all day or every day"