SALTAIRE cricket ground had a narrow escape from the bulldozers.

In the early eighties a trunk road was planned which would have split the park, bringing an end to the cricket.

Thanks to a protest led by a group of local sports clubs, in which Saltaire player Pat McKelvey was influential, the proposal was shelved.

And what a blessing it was. This charming ground beside the River Aire is one of the lesser-known gems in the tourist hotspot village.

The ground’s appeal has seen it find its way onto the pages of author and lifelong cricket enthusiast Brian Levison’s new book ‘Remarkable Village Cricket Grounds’.

The beautifully-produced hardback - a companion title to Levison’s 2016 publication Remarkable Cricket Grounds - picks out a selection of the most breathtaking, interesting and quirky village grounds in England, Scotland and Wales.

Saltaire CC certainly deserves its place. Built from scratch in the mid-19th century, the ground was the brainchild of Sir Titus Salt, who created it, along with a hospital, church and railway station (everything except a pub), as part of the new village to house his factory workers.

Although bordered by many buildings, writes Levison, the ground ‘retains a pastoral feel and has many fans, including Sir Learie Constantine, the West Indian cricketer and politician, who recorded in his autobiography that ‘Some of the loveliest grounds I have played on are in Perth in Western Australia, Todmorden (Lancashire League) and Saltaire’.

Among cricket’s famous names who have graced the field, with its neat white pavilion, are the great England bowler Sydney Barnes and Jim Laker, the England off-spinner who was raised in Saltaire and was seen as more a batsman than a bowler. Laker is honoured with a plaque on the side of the scoreboard.

Roberts Park is the only permanent cricket ground in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, although, adds Levison competitive cricket is also played in Spianada Square in Corfu Town.

Also a magnet for visitors to the Bradford district, Haworth Cricket Club caught Levison’s eye and has been included in the coffee table book, which would which would make a great Christmas present for any lover of the game.

Members have played on Haworth’s West Lane ground since 1951. ‘Hewn out of a sloping hillside, it commands views over the Worth Valley with the Pennines visible to the west.’

According to long-time committee member Kath Gower, the old joke, ‘if you can see the hills, it’s about to rain and if you can’t, it already is’ has more than a grain of truth in it’, writes Levison.

On certain days, water pours down the slope, despite the £50,000 of drainage improvements funded by Sport England. But Kath is keen to add that “On a summer’s day it’s a glorious place to be!”

A small ground, only 80 by 70 yards, means sixes are quite common.

Upper Wharfedale Cricket Club’s ground at Wood Lane, on the edge of Grassington, also features.

‘It is good sheep-rearing country and sturdy dry stone walls are needed to keep the persistent woolly beasts off the pitch,’ Levison writes.

The bizarre ‘Wednesday rules’ adopted by players at Burnsall CC make interesting reading. Cricket at the Daggett’s field ground, where Burnsall and nearby Hartlington play, is of two types.

On Tuesdays, Burnsall CC plays ‘serious cricket’ in whites with independent umpires in the Dales Villages Evening Cricket League, while on Wednesdays it’s more relaxed, with a ‘no whites’ dress code, allowing ‘fun cricket’, in the Underdales Cricket League, to be played.

Levison has done well to get his head around the idiosyncratic rules. In the Wednesday games, to avoid upsetting anyone and ensuring they return to play again, under Law 12a, a batsman can’t be out first ball, and no LBWs are allowed (Law 13b)

Because everyone must have a knock, batsmen are retired after scoring 25 (Law 12b). Afterwards, as club captain Sam Stockdale, says, “It’s just back to the Red Lion.”

*Remarkable Village Cricket Grounds by Brian Levison is published by Pavilion Books and priced £25.