A woman with limited sight was left completely blind after a cricket ball hit her good eye during a village match.

Caroline Austen, 44, is now suing Barcombe Cricket Club and Parish Council for thousands of pounds in damages following the freak accident.

She was watching her son playing in a junior match on the village cricket ground when a batsman hit a four. The ball ricocheted off steps and bounced into her right eye.

Mrs Austen, who runs the Royal Oak in High Street, Barcombe, near Lewes, had very limited sight in her left eye after suffering cataracts. Following the accident she lost her sight completely for about two years until an operation restored vision in her right eye.

Now the pub landlady has issued a summons at Brighton County Court against the cricket club and parish council. She could win up to £50,000 if the case is heard at county court.

A spokesman for Hamnett, Osborne and Tisshaw, solicitors acting on her behalf, said Mrs Austen was sitting on benches in front of the pavilion watching a match on August 1, 1994, when the ball was hit over the boundary.

He said: "It ricocheted off the pavilion steps and struck Mrs Austen in the right eye. Mrs Austen had suffered with problems in her left eye and had a cataract operation in 1993. She has very limited sight in her left eye.

"As a result of the injury she suffered temporary loss of vision which lasted for about two years. In June 1996 she underwent an operation which has helped to restore her vision in the right eye."

The spokesman said Mrs Austen was suing for the suffering, pain and distress she experienced following the incident. The club and parish council are both contesting the claim.

Paul Trower, of Barcombe Cricket Club committee, said: "I wasn't there at the time and left it in the hands of the insurance company. You play for years and nothing happens and then someone gets hit by a ball. I have never come across anything like this before."

A hearing to discuss legal formalities will be held at Brighton County Court on Thursday.

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