United Services Portsmouth - The Hampshire Years 1888-2000
Dave Allen (Hampshire's Heritage Committee Chairman) looks back at the United Services Ground as the curtain falls on Hampshire cricket in Portsmouth.
Evidence of the first time Hampshire had appeared at Portsmouth in 1852 but it was not until 30 years later, on 17, 18 and 19 August 1882, that Cambridge University Past and Present beat the Australians by 20 runs in the first first-class match in the city at the United Services Ground. For the Australians Bonnor hit 66 in just half-an-hour but A.G.Steel brought about their collapse with five wickets and "the scene at the end was one of wild excitement".
Michael Kennett describes how the ground had been made available following largescale demolition of defence works in the city in the 1870s. The ground has remained the property of the crown and has since provided recreation facilities, mainly cricket and rugby with some hockey, for officers and, latterly, other ranks and civilians in the city.
At this time, Hampshire were not using Portsmouth as a venue although they eventually played there on 21 & 22 June 1888 when Sussex were the victors by an innings. It is not surprising to note that at this stage Hampshire's matches were no longer considered first-class, indeed there was a gap of ten years from 1885 until Hampshire were admitted to the expanding County Championship as a first-class side in 1895. During this second class period, Altham noted that FE Lacey and the promising young soldier EG "Teddy" Wynyard boosted the batting although the bowling "was still woefully thin".
During this period the Australians and the University side returned when, in 1893 the tourists batted into the third day in attempt to pass the world record score in any match which at that time was 920. They felt short, being dismissed for 843, which was the record for a first-class match. Yorkshire beat the record three years later but the Australian total is still the 14th highest anywhere in the world. Inevitably, the game itself was a non-event.
Things had improved somewhat by 1895 when Hampshire finally competed in the Championship and they played Leicestershire at the U.S. Ground in the third week of August. They were led by Captain Wynyard and included Captain Quinton and Lieut S.R.Oliver R.N. the latter keeping wicket. In a low scoring game, Leicestershire led by 60 on the first innings but were then dismissed for 117 with the professional James Wootton taking 5-37. He then opened the batting and scored 35, while Captain Quinton's 55* took Hampshire to victory. Leicestershire returned the following season and were beaten again with Harry Baldwin producing the first of a number of fine performances for the county with match figures of 11-121. Barton with 57 and 75* led the batsmen.
These two initial successes suggest that Portsmouth might have been a `lucky' ground for the county and statistics bear this out. Of their three major grounds, Hampshire have won 104 of 313 matches in the city (33%) as against 91 in 338 matches at Bournemouth (27%) and 146 in 553 matches at Northlands Road (26%). In addition, while the other two grounds have both had matches abandoned without play, this has never happened at Portsmouth which also benefits from its chalk foundations in being a quick-drying,
Perhaps because of the early successes at the ground, two fixtures were arranged in 1897 and in the drawn match against Sussex the professional Arthur Webb hit 111, Hampshire's first first-class century on the ground. In the following year Surrey enjoyed an easy victory but reports tell us that a crowd of about 5,000 watched the second day although `Teddy' Wynyard could not play because he was with his regiment at the Aldershot review. The naval and military links also offered compensations and in the 1998 Hampshire Handbook, Andrew Renshaw commented on the number of cricketers from the services who would be brought in for the occasional game at Portsmouth. Perhaps the most fascinating was Admiral Sir A.G.Hotham who scored 11 and 5 in his one appearance for the county against Lancashire in May 1901.
A more eminent military cricketer was Brigadier-General R.M.Poore who, in 1899 enjoyed one of the most extraordinary and most spectacular `mini-seasons' in the history of the game. He did not appear in a Hampshire side in the first four matches of 1899 but joined the team for the match with Somerset at Portsmouth which began on 12 June and proceeded to score 104 and 119* in a drawn match. He then scored a third successive century at Southampton in his next innings and, on 29 June returned to Portsmouth where he contributed 175 and 39* to a victory over Surrey who were Champions that season. He was less successful in two appearances for the Gentlemen but resumed his county season with 304 at Taunton and, playing in just five more matches made two more centuries and three half-centuries. He then missed the last six matches of the season including an innings defeat against Sussex at Portsmouth where poor old Fred Tate enjoyed one of a number of successes against Hampshire. In his Portsmouth season Poore had scored 437 runs in four innings - two of which were not out!
By the turn of the century Hampshire were generally playing three matches in the city. Fred Tate troubled Hampshire again in 1901 with 12-138 but it was C.B. Llewellyn, the first of Hampshire's great overseas players who bowled most consistently for the home side. In the same match he took 12 Sussex wickets for 208 runs and also took 5-89 against Somerset and in 1902, 7-95 against the same opponents (plus 90 from his bat) and 6-93 against Worcestershire.
Hampshire were at this time, the weakest county side, finishing last in 1900 and from 1902-1905 so it is not surprising that at Portsmouth they won only two of 18 matches from 1900 to July 1907, losing 13. However, in August 1907 they did beat Somerset by 106 runs thanks mainly to Phil Mead who top-scored with 88 and took 6-55. The great man had first appeared at Portsmouth the previous season and, by the time he retired in 1936 had compiled the record aggregate (5,155) and highest number of centuries on the ground.
In part Hampshire's improvement could be attributed to their discovery of the fast bowler John Badcock who took 96 wickets in his debut season of 1906. Two years later at Portsmouth he took 8-44 in the Sussex second innings as they collapsed from 95-0 to 150 all out. Hampshire won by 9 wickets but Badcock mysteriously disappeared from first-class cricket after just three seasons with a career record of 212 wickets at 25 apiece. Fortunately Hampshire had discovered a pair of very useful bowlers who would serve them until well beyond the Great War. One was the Scot Alec Kennedy, the other Portsmouth's greatest native cricketer, Jack Newman.
In a career that lasted from 1906-1930, Jack Newman scored nearly 14000 runs at 20 each with nine centuries and took 1946 wickets at under 25. He would frequently open the bowling with Kennedy bowling medium-pace cutters and then revert to off-spin with the older ball. His match analysis of 16-88 at Weston-Super-Mare in 1927 is the best ever by a Hampshire bowler and he took 9-131 against Essex at Bournemouth in 1921. There have been very few cricketers of Newman's all-round ability who have been denied even a single Test appearance but it is a sad fact that no Portsmouth-born Hampshire cricketer has ever played for England. In addition, while 18 natives of the city have represented the county, they were not, for the most part, major contributors to the county's cause. Other than Newman, the most notable names are Jon Ayling, Mike Barnard, Neil McCorkell and Barry Reed. Newman made one century on his home ground, 102 v Essex in 1928 a performance repeated since the war by McCorkell (1947), Barnard (1954) and Reed (1967). Ayling and Barnard along with Richard McIlwaine and David Rock all learned their cricket at Portsmouth Grammar School. Briefly so did Wally Hammond after his family moved to Southsea during the First World War. Sadly he did not stay long although his biographer David Foot (1996) could not discover precisely why. He would have been a pretty useful member of the Hampshire side in the 1930s and 1940s!
Newman took 7-82 and 7-65 in successive Portsmouth matches in 1909 and, in the following season 12-183 against Northants and 9-104 in the narrow defeat against Yorkshire. His five first-innings wickets dismissed the northerners for 116 and Hampshire bettered that by 17. Four more wickets for Newman left Hampshire with a target of 240 and thanks mainly to White (90) they came close. The ninth wicket fell at 208 but Alec Bowell took them within 6 runs of victory. From then on Bowell was normally found at the head of the batting. Despite this result, Hampshire (6th) finished ahead of Yorkshire (8th) for the first time in their history.
Although they slipped five places in 1911, Hampshire won all three Portsmouth games and Mead's first Portsmouth century against Sussex included 100 before lunch and finished at 194. In this pre-war period Sussex were regular visitors whereas Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire never visited Portsmouth.
In 1912 Mead demonstrated another ability when his five catches in one innings against Middlesex equalled Quinton's county record. George Brown repeated the feat in 1932 while Warwickshire's H.E. Dollery held seven in the match for Warwickshire in 1953. Hampshire's wicket-keepers have also enjoyed their visits to the city. Bryan Timms (1964) and Bob Parks (1981) both dismissed six opponents in an innings and Parks completed 10 in the match against Derbyshire to pass Walter Livsey's record, set on the ground in 1914. While all ten of Parks' dismissals were caught, Livsey stumped five of his nine victims - a sign of a changing game.
While C.B. Fry has the highest career average for the county he made just one century at Portsmouth in 1914 before he and his team-mates were preoccupied with graver matters. When cricket returned in 1919 Championship matches were played over two days, a resounding failure, and Portsmouth hosted just one match, almost inevitably against Sussex.
In 1920 there were three matches at Portsmouth. On 24-26 July they met Worcestershire and Hampshire won by an innings after Brown and Bowell had put on 204 for first wicket - at the time Hants first double century opening partnership. Hampshire declared at 334-3 and dismissed Worcestershire for 87 & 109, Kennedy taking 8-69 in the match and Newman 6-71. Then, in late August, they travelled up from a disappointing defeat in Hove for the first-ever Portsmouth week. Sussex had dismissed them for 87 in just 32 overs but on the following day Brown, Barrett and Mead each made centuries as Hampshire amassed 616-7, which remains their fourth highest first-class total. Kennedy then took 12-147 and Hampshire again recorded an innings victory at Portsmouth.
Yorkshire, reigning champions and pressing hard for another success visited Portsmouth over the next three days and things went very differently as Yorkshire batted and Holmes and Sutcliffe compiled 347 for the first wicket. Although this was 32 short of the record against Hampshire, Holmes' 302* was the highest first-class score on the ground and remained the highest first-class score against Hampshire until Hick's 303* at Southampton in 1997. Wilfred Rhodes then took 11 wickets and Hampshire crashed to an innings defeat. In the event, Middlesex won their last nine matches to take the Championship. The Portsmouth `Week' was somewhat intermittent at this period being abandoned in 1922 and returning for one year in 1923.
In the Yorkshire innings the legendary Kennedy and Newman had bowled 81 overs between them taking one wicket for 256 runs. Things were rather better in the following year as Hampshire again recorded an innings victory this time against Sussex as Kennedy 11-86 & Newman 9-103 bowled unchanged. Hampshire won all three matches that year and their captain Tennyson, who was not particularly successful at Portsmouth, scored 152 in two hours against Leicestershire, adding 259 for the fourth wicket with Mead.
In the winter of 1921-2 the Head Groundsman Arthur Gawler was chiefly responsible for the building of the heaviest roller in the country. Despite the recent efforts of one or two `experts' this has remained in use under the supervision of Gawler's successors including Doug Welch and, currently, the almost permanently cheerful Bob Wheeldon. On the field, things remained interesting. In 1922 Hampshire followed on 195 behind Middlesex and were bowled out for 35 - none of their batsmen reaching double figures. In the following year Kennedy and Newman took their revenge on Yorkshire, dismissing them for 206 but Hampshire still lost by an innings with Macauley taking 11-52. In the same year, Kennedy 12-72 & Newman 7-62 again bowled unchanged in a victory against Somerset and between times Kennedy opened the batting and Newman came in at the fall of the first wicket.
In 1925, Stuart Boyes recorded the first hat-trick on the ground in a defeat by Surrey. `Lofty' Herman achieved the same feat in 1938 against Glamorgan and, most famously, `Butch' White just before 7 p.m. against Sussex in August 1961. The longest such feat was by Tony Lock for Leicestershire in 1967 when he finished the first innings with `two in two' and dismissed Danny Livingstone with his first ball of the second innings (23-3). This of course provided some measure of revenge for Lock since at Southampton in 1962 Livingstone had been dropped on the boundary from a similar hat-trick ball from Lock and went on to score 200!
In 1927 Hampshire compiled 521-8 declared against Yorkshire with the great all-rounder George Brown scoring 204 and adding a county record 344 for the 3rd wicket with Mead. In the same year, Alec Kennedy took 7-8 (including 6 in 14 balls) as Warwickshire were dismissed for 36 in their second innings. Kennedy also scored one of his 10 Hampshire centuries against new visitors Nottinghamshire that season. Meanwhile Sussex brought Fred Tate's lad Maurice, who performed the match double of 101 and 10-95 as Sussex won by an innings.
In 1929 Kennedy went even better, taking 9-46 against Derbyshire which were the best figures at the ground until Derek Shackleton took 9-30 against Warwickshire in 1960 and `Butch' 9-44 against Leicestershire in 1966. Meanwhile, in 1933, Derbyshire were dismissed for 47 with Boyes taking 6-5 in ten overs and Kennedy 4-9. By contrast Cadogan was profligate with 7-0-30-0.
The 1930s were a less successful decade for Hampshire as the struggled to replace great players like Newman, Brown, Kennedy, Tennyson and Mead. Nonetheless, they provided great entertainment in 1935 when, by the close of play on day one against Kent, Hampshire had been dismissed for 424 including a century before lunch by W.G. Lowndes and Kent were 128-1. This contrasts dramatically with the last day against Glamorgan in 1964 when the Welsh county, having been dismissed for 50 in their first innings (including a last wicket stand of 20) batted for 95 overs, scoring 134-3. On that day Sainsbury's figures were 31-27-10-1.
By 1937, most first-class cricket on the ground was provided by Hampshire but in that season, R.P. Borgnis scored a century for Combined Services v New Zealand in the only first-class match he ever played. In the same year, Gerry Hill and Donald `Hooky' Walker both made centuries as they enjoyed a county record 5th wicket stand of 235 for Hampshire against Sussex whereupon the Parks brothers added 297 for their fifth wicket. The match was drawn, with `Lofty' taking 7-141 in a season in which he had 133 victims at 21.58.
Hampshire played five matches at Portsmouth in 1938 and won the first three before suffering successive defeats in the August week. Walker made 91 against Glamorgan and, in the following season scored 66 against Sussex and 108* in his last innings on the ground against Surrey in early August. Then `Hooky' Walker went off to war and, like Portsmouth-born J.P. Blake did not return.
Portsmouth was of course a prime target for German bombing in the 1940s, so it must have been especially pleasant when first-class cricket returned to the city in 1946. Many outstanding young cricketers were yet to be demobbed and National Service also brought interesting players to Portsmouth through the next fifteen years. Essex were the first visitors and Hampshire won by 9 wickets with their new captain Desmond Eagar recording a half-century. When the Combined Services entertained India in mid-June Leo Harrison, still fretting on his demob, was given the chance of a rare first-class match as a middle order batsman but had to wait until the following season to be released to play for his county. Meanwhile Hampshire lost by just one wicket to Nottinghamshire when the last pair scampered two leg byes. For Somerset, Bill Andrews, brother of Hampshire's amateur wicket-keeper Jack, took 8-25 to skittle the home side for 80.
Neville Rogers had joined Hampshire's staff in 1939 before going off to war. He made his county debut in 1946 and in the following season fell one short of his maiden hundred on 10 May against Sussex at Portsmouth. He went four better on the same ground against a strong Cambridge University side on 1 July and, again at Portsmouth, scored 70 and 178 against Surrey. Thereafter he hit one century at the ground each year until making his highest first-class score of 186 against Gloucestershire in 1951. At this time Rogers frequently carried Hampshire's batting yet, despite being twelfth man and appearing in a Test trial he, like Jack Newman and, later, Trevor Jesty, never received the highest honour which many felt he deserved.
Gradually, under the leadership of Desmond Eagar and Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie, Hampshire became a power in the land. The batting become stronger built around a top three of Marshall, Gray and Horton; Shackleton, Cannings, Heath and White provided high quality pace and seam bowling and Sainsbury and Harrison gave all-round strength. When the county finished third for the first time in its history in 1955 they won three matches at Portsmouth and it is a reminder of cricket on uncovered wickets that, in five matches only one innings by either side passed 300. After Nottinghamshire had scored 357 on 12 May, Hampshire's opponents at Portsmouth recorded totals including 109; 95; 175; 138; 48-9 dec and 192. Typically, the quicker bowlers Shackleton, Heath and Cannings generally shared the wickets although Roy Marshall took six Gloucestershire wickets with his off-spin.
Marshall was, of course, principally a batsman and, in 1957 he totalled 549 runs in five matches at Portsmouth = a record for the ground. In 1958, Hampshire were runners-up to Surrey, although when they came to the Portsmouth week on August 6 the county had high hopes of finishing first. Unfortunately they drew the two games of that week and won only one of their last eight matches. Malcolm Heath enjoyed his great year in 1958 and against Sussex took 5-43 and 8-43 in an innings victory.
In 1960, Roy Marshall and Jimmy Gray set a first wicket record for the county for 249 against Middlesex, but 1961 was, of course, the great season and Portsmouth enjoyed its share of the excitement as Hampshire won four of their five matches. There were two great victories. In the first against Gloucestershire the second day was lost to rain and Ingleby-Mackenzie confounded his team by declaring on 96-0 on the morning of day three. Roy Marshall, 71* was not best pleased but Hampshire chased a target of 199 and Butch White coming in at 162-8 smashed 33* to take them to victory. He repeated his heroics in August, late on that second evening against Sussex, when a hat-trick and four wickets in the over turned a drifting game Hampshire's way. In late August, `Butch' also took ten in the match against Leicestershire as Hampshire drove on to their first great triumph.
1962 was something of an anti-climax but Jimmy Gray enjoyed a remarkable match against Derbyshire. With Roy Marshall absent he asserted his seniority and, on the first day, batted through the innings to record the county's highest innings at Portsmouth of 213*. Then, after Hampshire had taken first innings lead he was left 85* in the second innings when rain curtailed play. He had been on the field throughout the match.
In 1965, two years after its introduction, Hampshire played their first Gillette Cup match on the ground and Peter Sainsbury won the man-of-the-match award in a victory over Kent. In 1971 Hampshire took two days to beat Sobers, Nottinghamshire and the rain in a televised cup match when Sainsbury again won the match award. Mike Taylor appeared in the Nottinghamshire side.
In August 1967, Hampshire travelled back from a match at Leicester where the scores were level at the close, Hampshire 267-8, one short of victory. At Portsmouth Middlesex declared at 327-5 and young David Turner with 87 took Hampshire to within 50 of that total. Keith Wheatley led Hampshire's bowlers in reducing Middlesex to 123-9 and the declaration target was accepted. Marshall, Reed and Gilliat took Hampshire to 100-2 but Ron Hooker and Bob Herman took wickets until at 116-5 Hampshire needed 58 in 38 minutes. Wheatley and White hit out to reduce the target to 20 in 20 but two run outs left Hampshire at 154-8. Shackleton and Cottam then added 13 in 6 minutes but one run was needed from Herman's last ball. Cottam missed, the bails fell and the match was tied - the only such result on the ground.
In 1968 Barry Richards made his first appearance on the ground scoring 27 and 20. He then helped Hampshire to beat Sussex scoring 82* and 83 and on 28 August hit 206 against Nottinghamshire, second only to Jimmy Gray's innings on the ground. 1969 saw the introduction of Sunday League cricket and, after a defeat at Canterbury, Hampshire's first home match in the new competition was against Gloucestershire at Portsmouth on 11 May. Roy Marshall led the way with a captain's innings of 72 and Trevor Jesty with 4-11 helped Hampshire to an easy victory. Pressing for the title Hampshire lost to Essex at Portsmouth in late August in front of an estimated crowd of 8,000. They finished runners-up, one point behind the Champions Lancashire.
In 1971 the Pakistan tourists attracted a large crowd of Bangladeshi demonstrators to Portsmouth. Tourists matches have been scarce at Portsmouth although the 1960 South Africans played a first-class match against the Combined Services who were also thrashed by the 1973 West Indians in a two-day friendly during which Keith Boyce hit 96 at around three runs-a-minute.
In 1973, Hampshire were Champions again, although three of their four Portsmouth matches were drawn. Against Surrey, Richards scored a century before lunch on the second day and against Essex, Turner and Gilliat added 203 but rain denied Hampshire almost certain victory. David O'Sullivan, enjoying a remarkable August took 6-35 against Essex and then 4-60 as Derbyshire subsided to an innings defeat with Gilliat scoring successive hundreds.
In 1974 rain robbed Hampshire of a more deserved second Championship when the last four days of the season were rained off. Worcestershire who finished two points ahead of Hampshire had been hammered by an innings when they came to Portsmouth in early August, a result which appeared to settle the title race. In 1974 Hampshire played just three matches in the city but won them all.
In the following year came tragedy for Portsmouth. While Hampshire continued to be a strength in the land, destruction of the trees at the Railway end meant no county cricket in Portsmouth for the only time since they had entered the Championship in 1895. 1975 was also the year Hampshire first won the Sunday League title but no matches were staged in the city. In 1976, screens were purchased and county cricket returned with an early week in mid-June when Hampshire entertained Yorkshire and Lancashire. On the first Saturday Hampshire scored 391 but overnight, vandals climbed into the ground and "chewed three large chunks out of the strip" (The News 14 June). Fortunately, the pitch was moved to an adjoining strip and the game was resumed.
In 1978 Hampshire were Sunday League Champions for a second time and won both their matches at Portsmouth against Lancashire and Yorkshire - Gordon Greenidge scoring a marvellous 116 in the latter game. With the premature retirement of Barry Richards, Portsmouth-born David Rock had the chance to establish himself in the side but after a bright start he faded from the professional game and, like Richard McIlwaine a decade earlier, played little cricket subsequently.
Malcolm Marshall became the latest great overseas player to join Hampshire in 1979 and his 5-13 against Glamorgan is Hampshire's best Sunday League analysis on the ground. In 1983 Worcestershire made 231-9 against Hampshire while Jesty (166*) and Greenidge (108*) added an undefeated 269 against Surrey. The final total of 292-1 remains Hampshire's highest 40 over score, although they made 313-2 to beat Sussex at Portsmouth ten years later when, for one season, the competition was played for 50 overs. Hampshire won the latter match with one ball to spare after Robin Smith (129) and Paul Terry (124*) added 235 for the second wicket. Alan Wells made a century for Sussex and Kevin Shine's analysis of 10-0-87-0 is the most expensive by any Hampshire bowler in a Sunday League game. In the meantime Hampshire had also won the Sunday League in 1986 when, in their only match at Portsmouth they beat Warwickshire by 6 wickets. Although Hampshire did not play any knock-out matches at Portsmouth leading to their three Cup Final victories in 1988, 1991 and 1992, Portsmouth-born Jon Ayling played in all three finals and no-one will forget his astonishing six in the gloom of the Nat West triumph over Surrey.
During those years Jon and Kevan James contributed significantly to the Southern League triumphs of South Hants Touring Club who then played at the St Helen's Ground on Southsea seafront. Now Portsmouth, they have moved to the north of the city at Drayton Park while United Services continue to play league cricket at the U.S.Ground. Sadly U.S.Portsmouth were demoted to the Southern League during this past winter for failing to develop a colts side. A proposed merger with Portsmouth, which might have produced a very strong club side, fell through and, so, there will be no top club cricket played on the Island of Portsea in 1999.
In 1990 Hampshire played two astonishing matches against Derbyshire as part of the cricket week. They began with a comfortable victory over Nottinghamshire in which Marshall had match figures of 9-94 and on the Saturday Chris Smith led them to a score of 307 against Derbyshire. Against the same opponents on the Sunday Robin Smith (83) and Richard Scott (76) led Hampshire to 250-5 in 38 overs after which Cardigan Connor and P.J. Bakker dismissed Derbyshire for 61. This is Hampshire's largest ever Sunday League victory but, despite Marshall's 3-60, Derbyshire declared on the Monday at 300-6 thanks to a fine century from John Morris. Marshall then top-scored with 60 as Hampshire were bowled out, leaving Derbyshire with a target 235 to win. Barnett raced away before lunch and, at 91-1 and 140-2 Derbyshire were favourites before Marshall took 7 wickets in 51 balls and Hampshire won by 48 runs. The News described it as Marshall's "finest hour".
Derbyshire had some measure of revenge in 1992 when Peter Bowler scored 241* and with Tim O'Gorman added 259 for the third wicket. Despite their B&H triumph, Hampshire were now in a difficult period and they lost the match by an innings and 135 runs with Ian Bishop taking 7-35. Nonetheless, in 1993 they shared a match aggregate of 1457 runs with Sussex which is the highest in Hampshire's history and in 1994 their score of 512 against Durham is the fourth highest first class total at Portsmouth. Then, in 1995, Terry and Robin Smith made centuries in an innings victory over Sussex. Two victories in their matches in 1998 confirmed Portsmouth as a happy hunting ground for the county.
In a review of Portsmouth's history published by the Portsmouth News in July 1984, Peter Thompson wondered whether its history would survive to mark a century of county cricket in 1995. Well it did, but, while club cricketers were able to celebrate the 250th anniversary in 1999, the County Cricket Club stayed away. This was the result of poor pitch reports in the early season and the fear of points deductions by the ECB. It was only the second time since 1895 that county cricket was not played in the city.
In the meantime, the development of Hampshire's new ground at West End led to a decision to centralise all county cricket at the Rose Bowl from 2001. County cricket returned to the city in 2000 for what may well be the last time, beginning with a low-key but ultimately absorbing match against New Zealand `A'. The visitors eventually won by two wickets after chasing a target of 337 - just two short of the highest successful run chase on the ground by Surrey in 1937. The final matches against Kent in the Championship and Middlesex in the National League, were graced by sunshine and good crowds, reminding everyone of the great days of festival cricket by the sea. Whether this is really the end remains to be seen.
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Buckley GB 1935 Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket Cotterell
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Wynne-Thomas P 1997 The History of Cricket from the Weald to the World HM Stationery Office