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July 2008
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RMJ’s ground rules

July 24th, 2008 by Robin Martin-Jenkins in County cricket, Miscellaneous and tagged , , , ,

What is it that makes a cricket ground an attractive place to play and watch? Sussex played at Arundel last week – our favourite venue, both for results (we’ve won there for the last four years) and for the glory of the parkland setting. It’s a ground that is full of character. In contrast, the second team played at Derby; a ground that hardly has players drooling with anticipation and, true to form, they returned complaining of cramped facilities and a drab mood. Even the food that used to be Derby’s saving grace has gone downhill.

For the spectators, amenities and conveniences may be the most important factor in deciding whether a ground appeals. The players’ facilities are universally good now so he looks for something else too. It may be the architecture. To hit a four and see it racing away towards the Grandstand at Lord’s or the Pavilion at Trent Bridge is a wonderful feeling – certainly better than seeing the ball rolling towards the uninspiring grey monotony at Edgbaston, or the vast emptiness of half of Old Trafford. Similarly the cathedral at Worcester, or Lumley Castle at Chester-le-Street, adds sophistication and mood to the grounds they overlook.

It may be more subtle. Chelmsford, Taunton and Hove contain no obvious beauty – no sweeping statements of majesty – but each has an intimacy and individuality that makes them a joy to play at and watch from. Chelmsford and Taunton are compact grounds. Short straight boundaries make it feel like the crowd is on top of you and must make the spectator feel more involved. Hove, Sussex’s home ground, has the seaside atmosphere and it’s just as well it does. Who knows if it would be such a well-loved ground if the same set of buildings were uprooted to the Midlands and seagulls no longer whooped and wailed above …

2008 is Robin Martin-Jenkins’ benefit year, visit for further details.

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