Hampshire plan Basingstoke return
Hampshire County Cricket Club intends to return to play first-class cricket in Basingstoke in 2008, as part of a wider plan to take the game back to the county's outgrounds.
Although the Hampshire 2nd XI played one match at the Basingstoke ground in 2006, the last Championship fixture at May's Bounty was in the summer of 2000, the season before the club moved to The Rose Bowl near Southampton.
Second XI matches will be played at May's Bounty and Bournemouth Sports Club during the forthcoming season, and subject to conditional improvements at the ground, including pitch improvement which has been monitored during recent seasons, Hampshire Cricket intends to schedule 1st XI matches in 2008. The final decision will be made in the autumn during the fixture planning process.
"Hampshire's association with Basingstoke goes back many years," said Tim Tremlett, the director of cricket. "The team's track record allied to the tremendous support that they have always received from the local community bodes well for the future when this partnership resumes."
Keith Harris, chairman of Basingstoke and North Hants Cricket Club, added: "The club has always been keen to have Hampshire play at May's Bounty. We were disappointed when Hampshire stopped playing at the ground six years ago, but fully understood the reasons behind the decision.
"We are now very pleased that we have been considered as an out-ground to host Hampshire matches in the future. We have endeavoured to maintain our links with Hampshire Cricket and the main county side and we look forward to watching 1st XI cricket in Basingstoke once again. It is a positive benefit for the north of the county."
"We must now continue the hard work to deliver a spectacular international sports and entertainment resort with Test match cricket at its heart. Our plans take cricket at the Rose Bowl 'beyond first class' and will provide fans with the exciting prospect of seeing the world's best in action at an outstanding world-class international cricket ground."
David Collier, the ECB chief executive added: "The Rose Bowl is an exciting new venue with international quality floodlights and impressive development plans which seek to create a truly world class cricket facility."