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Old 14th August 2013, 14:15   #1
Hector
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Outground cricket

Afternoon all,

I am currently in the process of writing a book about outground cricket; the various grounds , its appeal, how it is dwindling in the first class game etc and i am interested in people's opinions on the subject.
Does outground cricket have a future? Or is it something of an anachronism?
Is it now simply not cost effective to continue or should counties make an active drive to take games around their county rather than staying in one city / town?

There's also a bit about minor-counties in the book, mainly focusing on grounds that have been used for first-class cricket in the past.

I'd be very interested in people's opinions!
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Old 14th August 2013, 14:26   #2
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The Southend festival was profitable, Colchester ran at a loss. The Essex Committee live closer to Colchester.

Which one do you think was chopped?
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Old 14th August 2013, 14:52   #3
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I love going to the Horsham festival and it's normally jam-packed, although this year Somerset got beaten in less than 5 sessions so it wasn't as successful as normal. The atmosphere is always better at the outgrounds I feel and I wish the ECB would make it a rule that counties take a certain amount of games around the county in order to get their funding.
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Old 14th August 2013, 15:46   #4
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I'll be going to Scarborough later this month - it's not really a festival any more, with two blocks of cricket in different parts of the season. But there's an argument for playing more cricket there, the attendances are better than at Headingley, for a start.
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Old 14th August 2013, 21:52   #5
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Scarborough is an incredibly under-used venue, IMHO.

I use the term "venue" rather than ground, because a lot of cricket is played there - just not commercial, well-attended cricket.

I grew up with this ground, so for many years I assumed all cricket grounds used for county matches were at least up to this standard.

I fact, it is a 10,000 capacity venue, pretty much in the central part of a town, that gets around 10 days' use as a "venue" a year. Extraordinary. It puts the Sheikh Zayed Stadium to shame.
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Old 15th August 2013, 10:16   #6
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At times I think its wrong to call Scarborough an 'outground' ... its a larger capacity & has better facilities than many a few 'county grounds' & as has been said gets bigger crowds than most, especially for championship matches.

Scarborough is also an institution in the Yorkshire ranks. Many members decamp to the town for the matches .... I've been doing it for 25 years ... this can be shown by the way that Yorks kept playing at Scarborough after 1996 when they 'dropped' the other outgrounds i.e. Bradford, Harrogate, Abbeydale & Middlesbrough.

Funily enough Scarborough is best shown when a match finishes early or it rains ... you get lots of bored cricket fans wandering round the town .. you can spot the aura of depression easily.

The 'problem' is that a Scarborough match is like being on planet cricket .. you can't get away from a match ... one day Yorks had a complete disaster ... so in the evening 3 of us avoided pubs where knew we'd see cricket fans so we could 'cheer up' .... we were sat in one pub when a family sat on the next table ... the husband immediately turned to us & started talking how bad Yorkshire were .. as they'd seen us at the ground
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Old 15th August 2013, 10:20   #7
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Thankfully Derbyshire have returned to Chesterfield. Of course they played Yorkshire ... as its nearer to Sheffield than Leeds it ... & thankfully this season they got good weather ... the first day of the championship match got 2,000 & by day 3 there were still probably 1,000 in attendance.

I don't normally bother what Dickie Bird says .. but for once he's right ... in good weather Chesterfield is a perfect place to watch cricket (provided its sunny its Dickie's 2nd favourite ground after Lords).
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Old 15th August 2013, 11:42   #8
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Scarborough is not just my favourite outground, it's right up there in my fave grounds of all types. A delightful hotch-potch of seating areas, a good elevated straight view at one end, the ability to get close to the rope without being told off and a cracking burger van. Have they sorted the bogs in the Costcutter Stand yet? I'm sure I saw the ghost of Schofield Haigh wandering about them some years back.
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Old 15th August 2013, 11:52   #9
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Thankfully Derbyshire have returned to Chesterfield. Of course they played Yorkshire ... as its nearer to Sheffield than Leeds it ... & thankfully this season they got good weather ... the first day of the championship match got 2,000 & by day 3 there were still probably 1,000 in attendance.

I don't normally bother what Dickie Bird says .. but for once he's right ... in good weather Chesterfield is a perfect place to watch cricket (provided its sunny its Dickie's 2nd favourite ground after Lords).
Chesterfield is lovely. I've been to a couple of days there. I think that Derbyshire should move there permanently as there headquarters is a total dump.
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Old 15th August 2013, 12:13   #10
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Tongo, will you be speaking to county committee members and the like during the course of your research - specifically about the cost element?

Like GBG, i've long harboured an incredulity that such fixtures are automatically cost-prohibitive. The only thing I can think of is that the insurance for such ventures can be high - after all, the playing staff, stewards and such are going to be being paid the same regardless of the venue. It can't surely cost too much to drive a bit of kit and some advertising boards 40 or 50 miles? I'd have thought the 'owning' club, eg Tunbridge Wells CC wouldn't charge for the ground but simply be grateful of all the side benefits.

But, in any case, the money through the turnstiles must surely counterbalance the costs. Outground cricket regularly attracts a large proportion of non-members, keen to see some top domestic cricket in or near their manor. I've been to days at Guildford, Maidstone, Basingstoke when it's been difficult to find a decent seat. There is often a healthy contingent of kids too.

I find the players enjoy outground cricket too, as they invariably feel more relaxed. A few years back at T.Wells, Alastair Cook and Danesh Kaneira were happy to stroll across an outfield packed with fans playing their own knockabout games, to acquire their tea from a Thai buffet van. At Uxbridge, I witnessed Steven Finn spending an hour in the nets, bowling tennis balls and windballs to a queue of excited youngsters - this wasn't organised, he just decided to do it on one of his strolls around the park. It's just so much more of an intimate and inclusive atmosphere and, if county cricket is serious about trying to attract a few more spectators, there can be no better device than outground cricket.
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Old 15th August 2013, 19:41   #11
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Originally Posted by Summer of '77 View Post
Tongo, will you be speaking to county committee members and the like during the course of your research - specifically about the cost element?

Like GBG, i've long harboured an incredulity that such fixtures are automatically cost-prohibitive. The only thing I can think of is that the insurance for such ventures can be high - after all, the playing staff, stewards and such are going to be being paid the same regardless of the venue. It can't surely cost too much to drive a bit of kit and some advertising boards 40 or 50 miles? I'd have thought the 'owning' club, eg Tunbridge Wells CC wouldn't charge for the ground but simply be grateful of all the side benefits.

But, in any case, the money through the turnstiles must surely counterbalance the costs. Outground cricket regularly attracts a large proportion of non-members, keen to see some top domestic cricket in or near their manor. I've been to days at Guildford, Maidstone, Basingstoke when it's been difficult to find a decent seat. There is often a healthy contingent of kids too.

I find the players enjoy outground cricket too, as they invariably feel more relaxed. A few years back at T.Wells, Alastair Cook and Danesh Kaneira were happy to stroll across an outfield packed with fans playing their own knockabout games, to acquire their tea from a Thai buffet van. At Uxbridge, I witnessed Steven Finn spending an hour in the nets, bowling tennis balls and windballs to a queue of excited youngsters - this wasn't organised, he just decided to do it on one of his strolls around the park. It's just so much more of an intimate and inclusive atmosphere and, if county cricket is serious about trying to attract a few more spectators, there can be no better device than outground cricket.
I emailed Kent for a comment about their continued support of the Tunbridge Wells festival but didn't get a reply. I'm mulling over sending an email to Middlesex as I am going to Shenley next month and i'm interested to see why they stopped going there after taking a few matches there a few years ago as it looks like a cracking ground. May well email the likes of Surrey re Guildford, Gloucs re Cheltenham and probably Hampshire re why they stopped going to Basingstoke but i'm not confident of getting much in the way of replies!
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Old 15th August 2013, 19:54   #12
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I emailed Kent for a comment about their continued support of the Tunbridge Wells festival but didn't get a reply.
I wish I could say this surprises me. Good luck with your continued research, Tongo.
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Old 15th August 2013, 20:59   #13
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Hampshire re why they stopped going to Basingstoke but i'm not confident of getting much in the way of replies!
I believe the May's Bounty ground, along with United Services Ground, Portsmouth, originally lost its county matches due to the opening of The Rose Bowl and the desire to centralise Hampshire cricket in one swish new place. And, the MB pitch was regarded as a bit iffy. It made a comeback in 2008 because The Rose Bowl was required for a REM show. I went along on the final day and it was plain to see that a huge effort had been made locally to make it a special event. Unfortunately, the efforts to ensure a decent pitch hadn't been quite so successful (first innings scores of 156 and 96) but it did produce a cracking finish. Two further games followed, in 2009 and 2010, yielding plenty of runs but there hasn't been a Championship game there since. A pity, as there's a comfortable oldy worldy feel to the area and the Bounty pub is a little delight.

Last edited by Summer of '77 : 15th August 2013 at 21:41.
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Old 15th August 2013, 21:44   #14
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Can't imagine Yorkshire going back to Harrogate anytime soon. Despite the charm of the spa town the ground is surrounded by housing estates.
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Old 15th August 2013, 22:24   #15
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Can't imagine Yorkshire going back to Harrogate anytime soon. Despite the charm of the spa town the ground is surrounded by housing estates.
And? The Oval is surrounded by clogged roads and charmless accommodation blocks.
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Old 15th August 2013, 22:28   #16
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And? The Oval is surrounded by clogged roads and charmless accommodation blocks.
And no bleedin' boozers.
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Old 16th August 2013, 08:15   #17
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I wish I could say this surprises me. Good luck with your continued research, Tongo.
I emailed Tunbridge Wells CC as well and they also didnt reply!
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Old 16th August 2013, 08:17   #18
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I believe the May's Bounty ground, along with United Services Ground, Portsmouth, originally lost its county matches due to the opening of The Rose Bowl and the desire to centralise Hampshire cricket in one swish new place. And, the MB pitch was regarded as a bit iffy. It made a comeback in 2008 because The Rose Bowl was required for a REM show. I went along on the final day and it was plain to see that a huge effort had been made locally to make it a special event. Unfortunately, the efforts to ensure a decent pitch hadn't been quite so successful (first innings scores of 156 and 96) but it did produce a cracking finish. Two further games followed, in 2009 and 2010, yielding plenty of runs but there hasn't been a Championship game there since. A pity, as there's a comfortable oldy worldy feel to the area and the Bounty pub is a little delight.
All fine and dandy but the Rose Bowl is a dreadful place to watch county cricket. Soulless. I've been there enough times to know! It's just about ok for T20 matches with a decent crowd but thats it for first-class. I think they should take a game down to Dean Park, just like the old days! (Even though its in Dorset!)
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Old 16th August 2013, 08:19   #19
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I believe the May's Bounty ground, along with United Services Ground, Portsmouth, originally lost its county matches due to the opening of The Rose Bowl and the desire to centralise Hampshire cricket in one swish new place. And, the MB pitch was regarded as a bit iffy. It made a comeback in 2008 because The Rose Bowl was required for a REM show. I went along on the final day and it was plain to see that a huge effort had been made locally to make it a special event. Unfortunately, the efforts to ensure a decent pitch hadn't been quite so successful (first innings scores of 156 and 96) but it did produce a cracking finish. Two further games followed, in 2009 and 2010, yielding plenty of runs but there hasn't been a Championship game there since. A pity, as there's a comfortable oldy worldy feel to the area and the Bounty pub is a little delight.
I thought that was the case for Basingstoke. Although i did read a bit in the local paper last November when the fixtures came out that there might be an outground match in 2014. Here's hoping!
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Old 16th August 2013, 09:54   #20
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I really don't have as many hobby horses as some on this board. SVaG and GBG in particular. However the disappearance of Valentines Park, Ilford to this day has me actually shaking with rage as I type this!
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