1st Class Cricket Back On The Isle of Wight
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The Isle of Wight will host Hampshire’s County Championship match against Nottinghamshire at Newclose next summer.
They will play a four-day game there during the week commencing Monday 20 May – the first time a First Class game is played on the Isle of Wight since May 1962, when Hampshire narrowly failed to beat Tom Graveney’s Worcestershire at the then JS White’s Ground, now used for club cricket by Cowes.
Owing the World Cup and warm-up fixtures taking place at the Ageas Bowl, Hampshire (and several other counties) have to use out-grounds – much to the delight of traditional cricket fans who have looked askance at the curtailment of festival weeks in recent years.
Ironically, Hampshire’s reverse/away match against Nottinghamshire in June is at Welbeck.
The prospect of county cricket returning to the Island heightened recent when the ECB sent one of the top groundsmen to inspect the Newclose square and discuss potential funding for drainage improvements with Martin Gardener, the owner, whose late father Brian was the inspiration behind the £2m project and, alongside John Hilsum, so instrumental in the ground being developed and eventually opened in 2009.
It is understood Hampshire have been having transportation discussions with the Red Funnel ferry group, who operate car ferry and fast-cat services to Cowes from Southampton. Players, supporters and advertisement hoardings would need to be transported across the Solent.
Club cricket has been played at Newclose since 2009, principally by Ventnor during their time in the ECB Southern Premier Division. Hampshire second team and the MCC YCs have used the ground for matches each summer.
Hampshire will begin the 2019 County Championship season with Ageas Bowl matches against Essex (April 5) and Yorkshire, the following week.