AG-10 – CHELTENHAM COLLEGE GROUND, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, ENGLAND
Photo courtesy : en-academic.com
Apart from the county cricket grounds themselves, very few cricket venues are in good enough shape to host a first-class county or limited overs game.
Today there is really only one school ground where county cricket is played regularly. Each year since 1872 Cheltenham college has run an “Annual Cricket Week “, more accurately ‘ two weeks’ an event which used to be a lot more common than it is now, due to the loss of outgrounds.
Since the 1850s, the college team of Cheltenham regularly played competitive matches against the cricket teams of other schools and colleges.
In 1871, they played a match against Worcestershire, a representative county team. This otherwise ordinary match helped the ground to garner the attention of the top tier of English cricket.
Capacity : 4000
End Names : Chapel End, College Lawn End.
Home Team : Gloucestershire.
Cheltenham’s cricket week was instituted by James Lillywhite, the college Cricket coach and when he died in 1882, the 1883 takings were handed over to his widow in recognition of his work.
Today Cheltenham’s Cricket week is by far the “World’s Longest running Cricket Festival” on an outground and by modern standards attracts huge aggregate attendances of over 20,000.
Over 300 First-class games and more than 70 List A games have taken place here and there have been plenty of outstanding performances.
In1876, W.G. Grace scored an unbeaten triple century ( 318 ) and in 1877 took 17 wickets for 89 against Nottinghamshire
The first First-class match on this ground took place soon after in 1872. In that match against Surrey, Gloucestershire fielded the famous “three Graces” ( brothers). The most famous of them, W.G. Grace took 12 wickets in the match, giving them an innings victory.
W.G. Grace called it the ‘ best pitch in the country’. It has seen a Hat-trick of stumpings by W.H. Brain 1893 (and this ball is kept in the Museum in Glucestershire’s CCC, Bristol) , a Hat-trick of LBWs by the South African and Gloucestershire all rounder Mike Procter in 1979.
This ground also witnessed one of the darkest days in the history of Gloucestershire cricket. They were dismissed for a paltry total of 17 against the visiting Australians in 1896. A batting line featuring the likes of Grace and Jessop crumbled badly against the bowling of McKibbin and Trumble.
The 1902 Australians also played at Cheltenham and once again won by an innings. The crowd witnessed true cricketing genius at its best: Victor Trumper scored a century when everyone else struggled to score.
In 1921, the Aussie googly bowler, Arthur Mailey took 10/66 here and wrote a book titled as “10 for 66 And all that “.
In 1928 Wally Hammond scored a century in each innings and took 10 catches, a world record against Surrey.
In 2005 this ground hosted a Women’s ODI match that went on to become a thriller. The Aussies scored 222 batting first. England countered quite splendidly, Arran Brindle and Claire Taylor leading the charge. After their wickets fell, though, the Aussie bowling attack, led by Cathryn Fitzpatrick prevailed by 12 runs.
The ground has a distinct slope and is attractively set, overlooked by the late vistorian buildings of the College and St. Luke’s church. The ground is surrounded by a canvas fence, and many marquees during the festival.
In 1947, the spectators turned up in large numbers and around 14,000 packed the ground for Gloucestershire Vs Middlesex, a match of Championship decider. Though Middlesex won despite fine bowling by Tom Goddard’s 15/ 156 for Gloucestershire. In 51 matches on this ground, Goddard took 269 wickets including 24 five-fors and 10 ten-fors.
In olden days the ground was populated by Colonels and clergymen. Although times have changed, it retains much of its appeal. As David Hopps wrote in “ The Guardin” Cheltenham is not snooty any longer, even if you can still spy the straw hats and tropical suits reminiscent of erstwhile days when the weavers were home on leave from the colonies.
The Festival is far more egalitarian. Those long flowery dresses of Officers’ wives have given way to bare midriffs of nubile wine-bar girls not long out of one of the local young ladies colleges. In early evening too, the cacophony increases.
The edgy street art of the famous artist Banksy a stroll from Gloucestershire Chief’s Home, adds colour to the ground.
The college building, chapel, and refectory frame the ground down one side and the pavilion’s external walls are adorned with giant hanging baskets overflowing with summer blossoms between ground Gothic arch doorways.
Spectators stroll the entire ground in a circular fashion while watching the match in the middle uninterrupted.
Gloucestershire will celebrate its 150th Anniversary of playing matches at this ground this year ( 2022) and the setting makes it easy to understand the longevity of the “Cheltenham Cricket Festival”.
The Glos’s son of the soil W.G. Grace scored the second of his 2 triple centuries within a space of a week here in 1876.
CHELTENHALM CRICKET FESTIVAL
Schoolchildren take centre stage at Cheltenham Festival – including radio interviews
more than 500 schoolchildren from across the county took centre stage on day two of the Brewin Dolphin Cheltenham Cricket Festival.
Pupils from 15 schools took part in a mass coaching session on the outfield during the lunch interval of the county’s game against Derbyshire in the LV Championship on July 15.
The day was featured on BBC Radio Gloucestershire.
The children were taking part in the first ever Gloucestershire Cricket schools day to be held at the festival.
It follows a similar event which saw more than 800 children visit the Bristol County Ground last month.
The schools day included free entry to the match and the chance to conduct a question and answer with Gloucestershire players Cameron Herring and James Fuller.
The pupils also received coaching in the Abercrombie and Kent coaching zone and tested their bowling skills in an inflatable bowling cage – complete with speedometer.
The children were also given a workbook filled with cricket-related tasks. Activities ranged from designing a new Gloucestershire mascot to working out which of the county’s current batsmen has the best average.
But it was the 20minute close catching challenge on the outfield that caused the most excitement.
Led by coaches from the Gloucestershire Cricket Board and volunteers from the county’s youth teams, the pupils formed a circle around the playing area and took part in a range of close-catching challenges.
Gloucestershire Cricket Board projects and programmes manager Chris Munden, who helped coordinate the day said: “To see all 500 children practicing their skills on the outfield, in front of the crowd was an amazing sight. The children seemed to really enjoy the whole day and created a great atmosphere while the game was going on.
“We have worked hard to create a well-rounded day that offers schoolchildren a chance to watch top class cricket, receive coaching and tie it all in with their academic work. Judging by the response of the children and their teachers it was a great success.
Gloucestershire CCC chief executive Will Brown said: “It looked and sounded like the children had a wonderful time and I had many of our members and ex-players saying how great it was to see them all there.
“One of my main aims as chief executive is to get more children into watching and playing cricket and hopefully days like this will inspire them to do just that.
the day was also supported by the Gloucestershire Cricket Board’s education partners Mezze Restaurants and Chance to Shine as well as office solutions firm Itec who printed the workbooks for free.