Old Deer Park, Preston Park (Brighton), Guildford
ODP as seen from the Kew Pagoda, a SET20 fixture going on down below. An oasis of sorts, even in leafy Richmond; and one with good access: a bus stop outside and railway station nearby. A bit posh? A bit, a sign round the corner directed those wanting to give Archery a go, but the pavilion is a friendly place and gives the venue hearth, in part thanks to its history with London Welsh RFC.
Preston Park, home to St Peter’s CC, a club that has been going since the 1800s, and the rather unusual feature of cricket being played within a velodrome, the country’s oldest. Atmospheric.
One previous visit to Guildford in 1997, Sunday League days and an innings of 203 from pinch hitter Ali Brown against a visibly shell-shocked Hants attack. A modern pavilion in 2023, but otherwise recognisably similar although what once seemed like (very) short boundaries side-on not so much so now. A county game between Surrey and Middlesex women in progress.
The Oval, Horsham, Folkestone and Hove
The One-Day Cup was in situ as a Sunday League fixture last month and it was just like some old times for spectators, the power of the outfield as remarked on twitter. Good job the Surrey ground staff and management.
Sussex Martlets v The Forty Club at Cricket Field Road, Horsham. A county List A game was last scheduled for 2020, so perhaps Sussex will return in the not too distant future. Very pleasant.
Cheriton Road, Folkestone, Kent 2nd XI v Hants 2nd XI and 37 years to the day since one previous visit. A half bowl and still a fine view from where the old pavilion was (now no more), 30 minutes there good for the equilibrium.
Hove, season’s end at a ground that makes me want to return.
Tunbridge Wells, Luton and Worthing
From some angles the Nevill Ground could almost be Dean Park, known for Kapil Dev’s big innings in the 1983 World Cup (‘carnage among the rhododendrons’), Shane Warne was playing for Hants on my one previous visit. Kent have a long history of playing here and, hopefully, a future as well to go with it.
Wardown Park (‘Luton’s Jewel’), the upper ground in particular, home to Luton Town and Indians CC. The pavilion has a modest-looking exterior, but otherwise much greenery and a feel to it that is not so very different to Tunbridge Wells, which was a bit surprising. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been. Northamptonshire played a Gillette Cup tie here in 1967, Bedfordshire a game as recently as 2019 but in truth it is an urban area the professional game has left behind.
Art Deco in Worthing; Sussex first played here in 1935 and cricket weeks were staged post WWII until 1964. A large enough playing area for two games, although it is really the pavilion that makes the Manor Sports Ground, with its lines and symmetries: as to the cricket in front of it this month a leg-slip and mid-on would have completed the picture.
Chichester, Bath and Kew.
Priory Park, Chichester and the pleasure of visiting somewhere new. With the Park Tavern nearby, it is as atmospheric as it is photogenic; if some grounds are usually photographed from one angle, this one looks good all the way round it.
Bath: the rec., a venue for first-class cricket from the visit of the Gentlemen of Philadelphia in 1897 to Somerset’s departure in 2006. In 2022 the Grade II listed pavilion remains, as do memories of sitting in front it, but alas there was no sign of a pitch the day the photo was taken.
Bath CC: North Parade, on the other side of the road. In recent times Gloucestershire 2nd XI have played here, surprisingly maybe given the historical association of the area with their rivals. Perhaps county first XI’s will return at some point.
Kew Green, which has a rather intimate feel to it, despite the main road over the bridge to the left and the royal entrance to the gardens to the right. Personally as familiar as any, it makes a picture, particularly in high summer.
Leyton, Lord’s, Eastbourne, Maidstone
A bit weatherworn and in need some of tlc but the pavilion at the old county ground, Leyton, still makes a picture. Put on the wider cricket map by Holmes and Sutcliffe with their record breaking partnership of 555, it attracts visitors to go by the groundsman who volunteered info on where the commemorative blue plaque was; cheerfully he was also preparing four strips.
Lord’s, £5 for the 4th day of a County Championship fixture, a fair offer I think; personally, two hours in high church on a near perfect Sunday morning. A two-ball cameo from Ben Stokes, well caught by Sam Robson off the bowling of Toby Roland-Jones, was one up for Division II. The MCC do get things right, although the cricket with a Jeroboam (£)370 coming along in the schedule is for others.
The Saffrons, Eastbourne, well-maintained, genteel…croquet was in progress away to the left. Sussex last used the ground for an ODC match as recently as 2019 and in times past Gordon Greenidge made his career HS of 273no here, 202 of them in boundaries. As a trip revisiting the 1980s it was really quite recognisable.
Mote Park, Maidstone, pleasant, a secluded feel to it now. Kent days with 5,000 in attendance an increasingly distant past but a ground fondly remembered on social media: Aravinda de Silva made a big 200 here in 1995. Some years before a Hillman Imp ensemble set off from Dean Park and saw Hants do well on a Sunday afternoon.
Cricket Grounds April-May 22: Bournville, Swansea, Neath and Winton Rec.
Passing by during the Cherries run-in was the thread that links these grounds. Bournville pavilion, a gift from the Cadbury family from 1902, is an imposing beauty of a building and going by (near-) contemporary photos rather more impressive than the Edgbaston pavilion then. Recent comments on the Facebook group Cricket Grounds of Britain pointed to varying amounts of actual use of the pavilion by cricketers in recent seasons, but lucky those playing there with it as a backdrop.
St Helen’s Swansea, a ground known for Garry Sobers six 6’s, of which, with thanks to coverage by BBC Wales, we know two headed in the direction of the pavilion. If the building is semi-industrial in appearance, it is home and hearth to the club, a bar with walls well adorned by memorabilia, fine views beyond the playing area out to sea. The leg-side boundary where the other four 6’s went is not the biggest and the corner flag of the rugby pitch is evidently adjacent, but for anyone with a taste in traditional cricket grounds it is very likeable.
The Gnoll Neath, 15 minutes from Swansea by train and one of a small number of outgrounds on the cricket calendar in 2022, when Lancs and Hants are due to visit for RLC fixtures. The rugby ground is adjacent, but separate, and looking in it felt rather like a member of the 70s SL genre (no surprise to find that Glamorgan played their first SL fixture there). The Australians tourists came three times in the 80s and 90s and overall it’s a pleasant setting, with character and its share of history.
Winton Recreation Ground, Bournemouth. Together with Dean Park, Meyrick Park and King’s Park the town boasts some fine grounds from Victorian and Edwardian times. In decades past the bowl at Winton rec was the venue for the local 20-over final, and if the tide for the sport has gone out rather since then it is at least still in use, when in 2022 council maintained pitches are not so many. Years go it struck me as being really rather atmospheric, a nice ground, it still does.
Continue reading Grounds April-May 2022 →