Cricket club hopes to bowl fans over again by bringing back county games

Cricket club hopes to bowl fans over again by bringing back county games

The last game played by Kent County Cricket Club (KCCC) at the Warwick Park venue was in 2019, before the Covid pandemic. The ground, built in 1896, has not hosted county cricket since and without some work to the facilities it will not be able to attract KCCC back. TWCC, however, has continued playing, with considerable success, winning the ECB National Club T20 final in 2021, and reaching the finals of the European Cricket Championship in 2022. TWCC chairman Mark Williams told the Times that they are trying to bring the county game back to the historic venue.


“For Kent and for the town, (county cricket) is a massive financial boost. As a club, we will normally make a net profit on bar sales alone. “By putting £3,000 into a marquee up front, we could make a loss, but we do it because we think it’s great for the town. “It’s in the national newspapers; it’s on Sky TV. People remember the time Shane Warne was here, in about 2014, playing for Hampshire. We had something like 6,000 people here watching that game.”

The club chairman acknowledged that improvements are needed if they are to attract the county game back, but the club is prepared to invest.

“We are financially well-run, and our membership is a strong membership. As a club we have a strong desire to contribute toward the success of county cricket. The Nevill has always had this strong affiliation with Kent, and we want to do everything we can to maintain that,” he said.

“Over the past two years, we have been putting suggestions to the Council about positive ways forwards, with us taking some more responsibility. There are two discussions I had with William (Benson, TWBC chief executive) recently. One was that we want to have Kent Cricket to come back here, and we want to facilitate that.

“The second is how we move forward with discussions about how the cricket club can take more responsibility. That would mean taking some of the administrative headache out of it for the Council. “We’re already doing quite a lot to facilitate corporates coming here. At the moment, things are working quite well with bookings.”

One exciting and unusual ‘booking’ was the filming in summer 2019 of ‘83’, a critically-acclaimed Hindi-language drama about the one-day international match held at The Nevill during the 1983 World Cup. Although India eventually won the Cup, it seemed likely to likely to lose in the first round against Zimbabwe, until Kapil Dev and the side’s wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani took to the field and shared an unbroken ninth wicket partnership of 126.


Kapil Dev’s unbeaten 175 in that match was at that time the highest score in the history of one-day internationals. In addition to raising funds for the club, the film booking also secured a paintjob.

TWCC sponsorship manger David Marshall added: “This is another example of us not wanting to squeeze money out of the Council. We’re trying to get other people, commercial entities, to help, though we never twist anybody’s arm.”

Currently, TWCC fundraises through ‘all the different channels’, using the Pavilion, the main ground and top ground, and the cricket nets – which the club installed itself, at a cost of £100,000. “There are other pavilions which have been modernised, which we feel are the future, like Guildford,” Mark added, noting that such facilities could be hired for dinners, Pilates classes, gym training and more.

“Our responsibility as contributors to the community is to make sure our local people enjoy their sport – in this case, cricket.”

“What I said to William is that during the discussions with the county to bring cricket back here, we would do everything we could, as a club, to create that opportunity for them to come back. So if it meant we had to do some improvements, the club would do its best to crowdfund.” David added: “We had to take the view that even though the Council might not be willing to spend that sort of money – and why would they? – we mustn’t sit back and think – well, the Council own they ground – they’ve got to do it.”

The Council’s new Cabinet Member for Leisure, Wellbeing and Culture, Cllr Wendy Fitzsimmons (Lib Dem) said she knows how important the ground is to residents in the town. She told the Times: “The Nevill is a much-loved ground and we understand how important it is to so many people. “We are in the very early days of the new Borough Partnership administration. “We know that we need to focus on running local services well for residents, including parks and community facilities. We will be working closely with local groups who use these facilities.”

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