PUDDLETOWN have agreed a last-minute deal to play home games at Plush this season.

League rules stipulate Division One games must be played on grass wickets, meaning Puddletown Rec’s artificial strip is unusable at the higher level.

Adam Barrett’s men finished third in County Division Two in 2019 – one place outside the promotion places.

However, Puddle were promoted to County Division One following Shillingstone’s voluntary relegation this season.

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Plush, who play on Sundays, have agreed to host Puddletown for eight of the nine home matches.

Milton Abbey’s main pitch – once named by the BBC as one of the world’s loveliest – will entertain Puddletown’s remaining home clash against Weymouth on July 10.

Milton Abbey had been in talks for all nine games, but settled for one game due to Covid-19 policies.

Barrett told Echosport: “We’ve played a lot of Evening League games at Plush and always found it a nice place to play.

“It was a no-brainer to go there instead of (Milton Abbey), especially with Covid. They’ve been open to us playing there, which is helpful. We’re looking forward.

“Plush play Sunday cricket which means the ground doesn’t get used on Saturdays, which is a shame.

“It was the obvious choice. In 2019 we played at Winfrith but I don’t think they’re preparing a pitch this year.”

Dorset Echo: Milton Abbey's picturesque ground will host Puddletown in one match this season Picture: NFSHORT/MILTONABBEYSCHOOL/TWITTERMilton Abbey's picturesque ground will host Puddletown in one match this season Picture: NFSHORT/MILTONABBEYSCHOOL/TWITTER

On securing a solitary game at the scenic Milton Abbey, Barrett said: “It would’ve been lovely to have played as many games as we could there.

“But Plush is also a really nice game, so we’ve got to be happy with the outcome, hopefully do it justice and make it a bit of a fortress.

“It’s a pitch we know well and the pitches are generally quite slow and low.

“Hopefully we’ve got the bowlers to take advantage of that.

“With the short boundaries, if you get people like Lucas (Allen) and Adam Weir batting, hopefully they’ll be able to rack up big scores, which will put us in good stead.”

Under the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, cricket could be fully normal by June 21.

Puddletown are eager to commence work on renovating their existing pitch to a grass wicket, and have applied for planning permission to extend the ground.

The club has around £30,000 of Sport England funding for the project, which has been delayed by the pandemic.

“We are hoping to get grass at Puddletown,” Barrett said. “The whole Covid thing has pushed all the deadlines back.

“We’ve got £30,000 of funding banked and that’s the majority of what we need, so we’re just waiting for things to materialise.

“The short leg-side boundary has a pathway behind it and we’re going through planning permission to extend that into the field behind.

“The landowner’s given us permission for that, which is great. Then, we can rotate the pitch around and it will take four grass wickets.

“We are a little way off that yet, but everything’s moving in the right direction. Hopefully when things return to normal, we can push on with that project.

“It would be a massive step forward for us.”

Puddletown open their County Division One campaign on Saturday against Compton House at Plush (1.30pm).