A VILLAGE cricket club is counting the cost of repairs after arsonists struck during the night.
Police have launched an appeal to find those who targeted Melbourne Cricket Club, in Cockshut Lane, on Monday night, and set fire to boundary rope, with the flames then spreading to its scorebox.
But club bosses said the situation could have been even more severe if the flames had spread to a gas cylinder inside, which would have 'gone off like a bomb'.
Club chairman Colin Wakefield said: "We thought initially it was the scorebox but it turned out to be the big wheel which holds the boundary rope for the pitch. That has been burned out.
"It happened just outside the scorebox and spread to it, but didn't spread inside.
"There is a barbecue cylinder inside and if that had caught fire it would have gone off like a bomb."
Mr Wakefield said he was not surprised arsonists had struck, as it was not the first time the club has been targeted.
He said: "We estimate the repairs to be about £1,000 because the rope needs replacing and the scorebox needs work doing, but hopefully insurance will cover that.
"It won't affect our cricket matches. Luckily the fire was at the back of the scorebox and didn't affect the electrics at the front.
"I am not very happy about it but I am not surprised. I just think that if whoever did it does get caught the punishment won't match the crime. They will just get a little slap on the wrist."
Fire crews from Swadlincote and Derby's Ascot Drive fire stations attended the scene at 8.50pm on Monday.
Police, who said graffiti had also been sprayed on the pavilion, are now investigating.
Anyone with information can call Derbyshire Police on 101, quoting crime reference 36760/14.