England November 28, 2012

The soggy pleasures of New Road

The choice of Greek gods and Atlantisophiles

Whilst Alastair Cook and chums are gallivanting around India in the sunshine, enjoying all the hospitable spin-bowling and complimentary batting collapses laid on for them by their generous hosts, the rest of us are sloshing about up to our ankles in the wet stuff.

Some bits are soggier than others. It will surprise almost no one to learn that New Road, Worcester has been transformed from sleepy picturesque amphitheatre of cricket dreams into an enormous muddy puddle and that the native species of wading bird known as "Solanki's Duck" has returned, splashing about in the covers and making its nest out of bits of sightscreen, discarded batting gloves and copies of the club accounts.

At least there's no danger of New Road losing the title of England's Prettiest Temporary Sports-Ground Situated Underwater Feature; a competition in which it consistently outscores the marshes of Old Trafford and the intricate network of puddles that appears whenever someone leaves the tap running in the gents at the Banks' Stadium, Walsall.

This is the fifth flooding in the last half-decade, an impressive strike rate which should also see New Road move up the list of Most Often Underwater Sporting Venues, although it is unlikely to overtake the Marco Water Polo Arena in Venice or the Atlas Velodrome, Atlantis, regarded by many as the Don Bradman of watery sports locations.

Legend has it that this part of the world was the favourite holiday retreat of the god Poseidon. According to Herodotus, after a hard year spent capsizing the triremes of wandering Greek warriors, fixing the results of Olympic swimming events, and trying to teach the seahorses to perform dressage, old fish face liked to spend his downtime splashing about in the tranquil Worcester waters for a week or two every summer.

So why did the Victorians build a cricket ground on such a famously damp spot? It was a mistake that the Normans would not have made. They may have had an unsophisticated attitude towards sewage disposal, but they made a point of putting their most important buildings on the top of hills. If William the Conqueror had just once experienced the thrill of reverse-sweeping an opponent for six off the last ball of the match, Worcestershire would now be playing their cricket at altitude, surrounded by high stone walls, secure against floods, arrows, knights on horseback and marauding dragons.

Still, this is a commercial age and the club are making the best of it. The hotel they are constructing (on stilts, presumably) will offer spectacular lakeside views and the attached Steve O'Shaughnessy Seafood Eaterie will feature fish caught extremely locally by members of the second XI. Activities including raft-building and mud-snorkelling will be available, dependant on rainfall, and all guests get to take away a complimentary jam jar of sediment and murky water to remind them of their time at Europe's leading aquatic cricket centre.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on November 29, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    Just too good and hilarious Keep it up

    "although it is unlikely to overtake the Marco Water Polo Arena in Venice or the Atlas Velodrome, Atlantis, regarded by many as the Don Bradman of watery sports locations."

  • testli5504537 on November 29, 2012, 2:34 GMT


  • testli5504537 on November 28, 2012, 15:42 GMT

    New Road is where it is because there are only 2 elevated points within 40 miles. One got turned into a retirement village (The Malvern’s) while the other was reserved for more beautiful pursuits (The Hawthorns) Maybe they should build a dyke on the river side - they could get it sponsored and call it Bank's bank

  • testli5504537 on November 28, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    Now now, do be positive, it's not a problem it's a challenge, yada, yada. With global warming in mind,why don't the English invent a fourth form of cricket, to compete with Test, 50 overs and 20 over cricket? It could be played on such grounds, by its own rules. Bowling will still be overarm, but instead of bats the "batsmen" will carry little seaside-style nets. When the ball is bowled, "batsman" and fielders will compete to see who can find it first under the murky water, and hit an opponent with it, who will then be "out" regardless if it is a batsman or a fielder. Instead of a "hotspot" to decide marginal calls, there will be a "mudspot" to check for mud marks on the clothing or body. Hitting the umpire will be worth 6 "runs".

  • testli5504537 on November 28, 2012, 10:22 GMT

    Wow, had no idea Worcester had it so bad...

    LOL @ "...fish caught extremely locally..."

  • testli5504537 on November 28, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    you are re-defining humour man. Absolutely hilarious.

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