THE OVAL ground, LONDON

Courtesy : google images

CRICKET  GROUNDS- THE OVAL, LONDON

The Oval, currently known as Kia Oval for sponsorship reasons, is an international cricket ground in Kennington in the London Borough of Lambeth, South London.

The Oval has been the home ground of Surrey County Cricket club since it was opened in 1845.

The ground is owned by Prince of Duke Charles ( Duchy of Cornwall) and the only ground in England NOT owned by the County club.

It was the FIRST ground in England and second in international cricket ( MCG, Australia was the first ground) to host Test cricket in Sept. 1880.

HISTORY

The Oval is built on the former Kennington Common.  Cricket matches were played on the Common throughout the early 18th Century.  However, as the Common was also used regularly for public executions for convicts, cricket matches had moved away to Artillery ground by 1740s.

In 1844, the site of the present Kennington Oval was a market garden owned by the Duchy of Cornwall.  The Duchy was willing to lease the land for the purpose of a cricket ground and on 10th March 1845, the first lease was made, which was later assumed , issued to President of Montpelier Cricket Club by the Otter Trustees who held the land from Duchy to convert into a subscription cricket ground for 31 years at a rent of 120 pounds per annum.

 Prince Charles, Duchy of Cornwall, owner of the ground gets a slice of ticket prices , every drink, pie and programme sold.  The Duchy of Cornwall, who is still the owner of the ground, the property Estate which generated profits 14 Million pounds last year, provided Prince Charles personal income.  Prince Charles, the 24th Duke of Cornwall became entitled to the full income from the Duchy’s profit on his 21st birthday in 1969.

Original Contract for turfing The Oval cost 300 Pounds, the 10,000 grass turfs came from Tooting Common and were laid in the spring of 1845 allowing the first cricket match to be played in May 1845.  Hence, Surrey County Cricket Club was established in 1845.

On 3rd May 1845 the Club acquired the remainder of the leasehold of land for a further period of 31 years.

The Pavilion was built in 1898 designed by the famous architect A.T. Muirhead, who also built the pavilion for Old Trafford, Manchester.  Although much altered in subsequent years it still retains its original character.

GROUND INFORMATION

The Oval wicket  has 27 pitches more than any other cricket venue.  It has 5.5 acres , the largest playing area for Test matches in the northern hemisphere.  The playing area  is very large, extending to 168 metres by 148 metres.

It has 3 entrances viz., Hobbs Gates, Kennington Oval including turnstiles and Vauxhall End.  There is a separate Members’ enclosure.  There are 3 covered stands and 9 uncovered stands.

Name of Ends : Pavilion  End and Vauxhall End.

ABORIGINES  VISIT

In 1868, 20,000 spectators gathered at The Oval for the first game of 1868 when the Aborigines (Australia) began cricket tour of England ( for a 47- game tour)  and played the first match here and was the FIRST tour of England by any foreign country.

FIRST TEST MATCH

The First Test Match in England was played here  between England and Australia in September 1880 and thus became the Second Cricket ground to stage Test matches.  This  One-off Test was won by England by 5 wickets.  The Grace brothers , W.G. Grace, Edward Grace and Fredrick Grace played for the First time for England and W.G. Grace hit a  century on debut  (152 runs) and  for the FIRST TIME for England in Tests and Australia’s Captain  W.L. Murdoch also scored  a century ( 153 * ).

BIRTH OF ASHES  TESTS

In 1882, Australia won the one-off Test played here by 7 runs within two days.  The “Sporting Times” printed a mocking of an obituary notice “ English cricket had died and that the body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia “   which led to the creation of the “ ASHES” Trophy which is still contested whenever England Plays Test against Australia.  

History at The Oval

https://www.kiaoval.com/about-us/archive-history/ ( video)

The oval hosted the First FA Cup Final in 1872..  Football Association cup is an annual knockout football competition in Men’s domestic English football.

England hosted Australia at The Oval in 1880 it’s First ever test match

In 1882, Australia defeated England at The oval for the first time on British soil, leading the “Sporting Times” newspaper to declare the death of English cricket and beginning what would become known as “The Ashes” test matches between these two countries

In 1884, the First double century in a test was scored by Australia’s captain Billy Murdoch.

England’s dramatic 1 wicket win in 1902 inspired by it’s batsman Gilbert  Joseph’s sensational century against Australia

Australia’s 701 in 1930 as Don Bradman ( 244) and Bill Ponsford (266) put on 451 runs for the 2nd wicket and win for Australia by an Innings & 39 runs

England 903/7 is their highest in tests till date and they beat Australia by an Innings & 579 runs in 1938 and it was Australia’s heaviest defeat in Tests , when Len Hutton scored a  monumental triple century ( 364 ) 

Don Bradman’s farewell duck in 1948 Ashes  to the spinner Eric Hollies

Michael Holding’s 14 wickets & Vivian Richards blitzkrieg 291 ensured Windies win in 1976 by 231 runs.

The fourth and final Test of the 1979 series against India here was also magnificent.  England set the visitors a target of 438 runs to win.  India got off to a terrific start with an opening wicket partnership of 213 between Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan.  However wickets began to tumble and at the close India were tantalising 9 runs short of their target with two wickets in hand ending at 429/8.  Gavaskar’s monumental knock of 221 runs in the chase was one of the greatest innings ever seen at The Oval.

England’s speedster Devon Malcolm’s 9/57 against S.A. in 1994 set up win for England

In 100th Test at The Oval, England’s win by 239 runs over South Africa  in 2017 inspired by a brilliant century by Ben Stokes , debutant Toby Roland Jones’s 5/57  and Moeen Ali’s (England’s off spinner) Hat trick, first time at The Oval

Unique Featrues

The Gasholders outside the ground belong to the Victorian age, which means they were properly constructed.  Since they have not developed a crack, let alone a leak from the supply that is still in everyday use.

Courtesy : kiaoval.com

The iconic Victorian Gas Holder outside The Oval in south London is secured after the structure was granted Grade II listed status and now it is used as a prominent advertising hoarding for matches.

VAUXHALL PLEASURE GARDENS

The vauxhall pleasure gardens are located near to the Oval ground. The first and most important of these gardens, Vauxhall, was established in 1729 by the entrepreneur Jonathan Tyers. While the site had been a place for Londoners to gather and buy refreshments since the 1660s, Tyers realised that there was a market for paid entertainment. He also knew that charging an admission fee (of one shilling) would discourage pickpockets and prostitutes.

MUSIC CONNECTION 

The connection between Music hall and cricket was strong in the 19th century and 20th century.  Matches pitting teams of county players against comedy stars of the day were regularly played and raised large sums of the money went to charity.  In 1873, the Oval hosted a game that raised an amount of 70 pounds for the Music hall Sick Fund.  In late 1890s, Dam Leno, a comedy star of the day formed a group called the “Dainties” drawing many of the stars to play in such fixtures.  In 1898, Dan Leno’s team attracted wide publicity when they took on the employees of Dulwich’s Grove Hotel, it was well received by spectators.    

FACILITIES

Between 1993 and1996 the pavilion was completely renovated and enlarged by adding two storeys to provide additional seating for members, executive suites, restaurants and an improved library.  There are many famous paintings and items of cricket memorabilia in the various parts of the pavilion as well as in the SCC Centenary Library on the top floor of the building.

There is a splendid new clock above the members’ main pavilion entrance.  Near the main Hobbs Gate is a brick sculpture of Sir Leonard Hutton. 

In 1988 a new executive box was constructed at the Vauxhall End.   A large TV screen was installed high above Vauxhall Stand to broadcast action replays of the Cricket.

The First Aid room is located beneath the Bedser Stand and there are two further points at the Vauxhall end and Peter May stand.

The Club Museum  :  The Sandham Display room in the pavilion explains the history of Surrey CCC and the AMP Oval and contains Surrey and England memorabilia including the oldest known cricket bat in the world, and all the trophies that Surrey have won over the years.

Cricket coaching facilities, cricket nets, other sporting or recreational facilities are available.

Car parking facilities are available only for players and officials . Street car parking in and  surrounding ground or car parks in central London a short distance away.

Good viewing areas and designated viewing areas are available for people using wheelchairs. 

The Kia Oval offers a variety of Catering options around the ground.  On county championship and ODI fixtures there is Deep Blue Retaurant, a burger van, an ice cream van and beer carts located in the Pavilion forecourt as well as The Feathers Pub located behind bedser stand serving drinks and snacks.  On T20 match days, it has a food village at the Vauxhall end of the ground featuring some of the finest street food vendors as well as LIVE band music.

Toilets all around the perimeter of the ground with baby changing facilities are located in OCS stand as well by entrance of Lock Laker stand.

STADIUM TOUR

Stadium tours are available every Friday & starting at 11 a.m. unless a T20 or international fixture taking place.  Tickets must be booked thro’ their e-ticketing site or the office on any day.  The cost varies from 22.65 pounds onwards.  Tours will be approximately 90 minutes and visitors have to arrive at John Edrich Gate ( underground end) and to go to reception.

  • Entrance to the stadium
  • 90 minutes guided tour
  • Access to changing rooms, Members’ pavilion, committee room
  • Learn how cricket equipment is made
  • Skyline view of London from roof terrace
  • Tea or coffee on arrival

VIEW FROM SHARD TOWER (LONDON)

The building 95 storey Shard was designed by world renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano.  This architectural marvel is the tallest building in the European Union and its distinctive shape has defined the London skyline.  If you visit the view from Shard, you will get a breathtaking 360 degree view of London from more than 300 meters above the city.

DEVELOPMENT 

The oval overhauled their drainage and irrigation system at a cost of 7,50,000 pounds.  The project aimed at draining 30 mm of rain water per hour in order to resume cricket matches as early as possible.

4 permanent flood lights masts have been installed at The Oval. These new lights have been developed combining latest technologies to ensure that the lights will remain focussed in the ground and not neighbouring areas.  These new lights were installed in 2008.

In 2002 started the redevelopment of Vauxhall end which included demolishing outdated Surride, Fender, Jardeine & Peter May North ends and creating in their place a single four-tier ground stand, currently known as 1845 Stand.

In 2007, the Lock & Laker & Peter May South stands were replaced.

In 2013, a new project was started called “wings” to either side of the 1845 stand at the Vauxhall end of the ground. The development helped to increase the total capacity to 24,500.

In 2015, the Peter May & Tony lock stands were demolished and replaced by a single new and much larger stand named Peter May.

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