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Folkestone, EnglandFolkestone Cricket Club, The Pavilion, Cheriton Road, Folkestone, Kent. CT19 5JU (01303 253366)
The cricket-minded men of Folkestone had diligently searched for a suitable ground which would be worthy of their town. Longing glances had been directed at a piece of land a bare mile from the town near the foot of the North Downs, an area believed to be part of the Earl of Radnor's Broad Mead farm, and due to a generous gesture by the earl the land was eventually acquired. Under the supervision of the old Kent player Alec Hearne the ground was levelled and wickets prepared in readiness for the inaugural game in June 1905 when a Kent club and ground side visited the local team. In his after-dinner speech at the reception given at the Hotel Metropole after the game, Lord Harris commented that on such a fine ground county cricket should be played, a state of affairs that was not to be realised until 1928 when Kent played Worcester in the first game of the cricket week. Two years earlier they had met the M.C.C. and this was the earliest first-class fixture in which the county team appeared. Although played only intermittently since 1928 the Folkestone cricket week has become an annual event since 1961 and cricket in this setting, as it is on so many Kent grounds, is very enjoyable.
The pavilion, built at a cost of £1,000, the cash being advanced by Lord Radnor, was designed by architect Reginald Pope who acted in an honorary capacity. The seating is steeply terraced and commands an uninterrupted view beyond the play, over the golf course, to the North Downs where a white chalk track scars its way across the hills.
The preparation of the wickets is now the responsibility of Charles Brazier who, with a staff of five, maintains the entire 30 acres, which includes the football ground, tennis courts and bowling greens. Sandy soil helped greatly with drainage but it did little to produce a durable wicket, consequently a few years ago the entire table was dug out and relaid with blue clay to give a fast wicket that will not break up easily.
Among the most memorable performances on the ground is a forceful 295 from Leslie Ames in 1933 when Kent crucified the Gloucester bowlers to the extent of 592 for 5 declared, the highest score of any county that season. Gloucester's reply was
a pathetic 125 followed by 173 as Freeman took 11 for 60. Two years earlier Herbert Sutcliffe had tamed the Kent attack for 230, still the highest individual score recorded against them at Folkestone. Fred Ridgway recalls this ground with some pleasure for here it was that he dismissed Revell, Kelly, Rhodes and Gladwin of Derby in four successive balls. Warwickshire, however, hold no such pleasant memories for
`Tich' Freeman `fiddled them out' twice in one game when he took 8 for 31 followed by 9 for 61 in 1932. In recent years there have been no such outstanding performances but this in no way detracts from the enjoyment of cricket played on a ground
that is truly worthy of the town.
Playfair Cricket Monthly
Kent continued to play an annual match at Folkestone until 1991. Thge last first-class game hosted there was when Kent beat Cambridge University in July 1995
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