Worcestershire consider New Road move after flooding


Worcestershire are considering a permanent move away from their home ground at New Road after it flooded seven times over the 2023-24 winter. They will stage their first two home fixtures of the County Championship season in nearby Kidderminster and chief executive Ashley Giles is actively exploring the club’s options.

New Road is among the most iconic cricket venues in England, with its backdrop of Worcester cathedral, but it is built on a flood plain which relieves the River Severn. Giles, who took over as chief executive last year, said that the flooding problem is getting worse and fears that any further issues could affect their T20 Blast season.

“I don’t think we can carry on like this,” Giles told BBC Hereford and Worcester. “It’s costing us a lot of money. We’re going to lose virtually two months of a six-month season. The ground is here to stage cricket, to be a venue for entertainment and hospitality. But conditions are seemingly getting worse.

“I’m not sure how much longer this will continue if we keep having to put up with this. As chief executive here, I have to consider all options – and one of those options has to be looking if we move, where do we move, and how do we move? We have a good relationship with both the local councils, city and county.

“And would we be building a version of New Road somewhere else? Or could we look at outside investment and build something that could have world-class facilities. That would take a lot of investment. But sport – and cricket – is interesting to investors right now, so maybe the timing is right to look at those sorts of things.”

Worcestershire are not expecting to play at New Road until May 24, when they host Nottinghamshire in the County Championship, but Giles is anxious about the prospect of flooding ruining the start of their Blast season, with their first home fixture scheduled for May 31.

“The weather over the next couple of weeks is important, but we are still sticking to the plan of a May 24 return,” he said. “But any extension of the timeline on a return to New Road would be pretty devastating. We’ve now suffered seven full floods this winter at New Road, the last of them over the Easter weekend, which is very late.

“The water has now receded and we’re yet to assess quite how much damage has been done but first impressions are positive. It seems that the work done on the square has been retained and there is still good grass. But, if we push back any further we get into the T20 [Blast].

“It would be very damaging if we had to move T20 games away from New Road. Kidderminster has been a very good partner to us and we will play two our first two home Championship games there but could they cope with a T20 game? I don’t know. We need to explore these things.”

Holder arrives for start of season

Worcestershire announced the signing of Jason Holder last week, who has arrived in the UK ahead of their opening Championship fixture against Warwickshire this week. Holder is due to play the first five games of the season, before flying home ahead of the T20 World Cup.

Holder told ESPNcricinfo in December that he planned to win back his Test spot through domestic red-ball performances after opting out of West Indies’ tour to Australia in order to play in the ILT20, and made two first-class appearances for Barbados last month.

“Jason arrived on Tuesday morning from the West Indies and he has already practised with us at Kidderminster,” Alan Richardson, Worcestershire’s coach, told the club website. “He was really keen to get out there and meet the players and the staff and that has been great.

“Trying to find overseas players is probably a lot harder than 20-30 years ago with franchise cricket and this year we’ve got the added complication of a T20 World Cup. Jason was really keen. He has been playing for Barbados and played quite a lot of four-day cricket recently. He was keen to continue and then going into the World Cup with the West Indies.”


Source link

Leave a Comment