Hampshire versus Yorkshire Sunday 6th August 1978
The United Services Ground in the 1970s had a certain robustness to it, the feel to spectating given partly by the sounds emanating from the Officers’ Club in one corner and the famed heavy roller, weighing over 5 tonnes, stationed more or less directly opposite. Behind the rugby stand opposite in the photo, the railway line, and, on one side of the ground the festival tents with deck chairs for spectators, adjacent to the entrance and the impressive King James’s Gate.
Modernity then was in the form of the rugby clubhouse cum pavilion next to the pavilion used by the players; offering home-made teas on Sunday afternoons and social history in the form of the photographs of the rugby teams over the decades, and the distinctive looking figures that played for them. Burnaby Road also did something of a split scoreboard, with the main board to the left of the older pavilion and tin plates doing bowlers’ overs bowled on the other side.
Cricket Archive records first-class cricket starting with a match between a Cambridge University team and the visiting Australians in 1882, a week or so before the ashes of English cricket were urned at the Oval. County Championship matches were first played in 1895, and wars and two seasons apart, continued until 2000. An historic ground; as to the cricket played on Sunday 6th August 1978, the match rather foreshadowed what was to happen in the World Cup Final a year later. In an era of outstanding West Indians, Gordon Greenidge batted brilliantly, scoring at a rate close to current norms in List A cricket; the visitors after a solid start, struggled rather (Hampshire 216-4 in 34 overs, G. Greenidge 116, Yorkshire 130ao, 28 overs).
Ambient pleasure in watching at Pompey came from its history and distinctive character, a good ground to perambulate and cricket by the sea as well; with the prospect of the Rose Bowl being otherwise used for several weeks in the summer of 2020, perhaps a Hampshire team will return to Portsmouth, or, if not, then to May’s Bounty in Basingstoke.