Kent men’s team return to Nevill Ground now deemed ‘unlikely’

THE much-anticipated return of the Kent Men’s First XI to the historic Nevill Ground has been deemed ‘unlikely’ by Kent County Cricket Club CEO, Simon Storey in his recent Spring Statement.

The Nevill Ground had been one of two local venues used to host county matches outside of the Spitfire Ground in Canterbury, along with the County Cricket Ground in Beckenham.

However, Kent have now not played men’s first-team cricket at the venue for four years following the pandemic’s cancellation of the annual Tunbridge Wells Festival in 2020.

The local festival, otherwise known as Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week, had been running for over 100 years – having first started in 1902 – and was a cherished annual event in the cricketing calendar for both locals and fans of Kent County Cricket Club.

In his Spring Statement shared on February 22, Mr Storey revealed that despite regular requests from supporters, a return of the Men’s First XI to the Nevill in 2024 is not currently on the schedule. However, he didn’t completely rule out a possible return to the venue in the future.

He added: “We’ll continue to take significant Men’s Second XI and Kent Women’s fixtures to Tunbridge Wells this Summer and the door to an eventual return Men’s First XI remains open.”

While disappointment may ripple through the cricket community in Tunbridge Wells, the CEO assures that the county club is committed to supporting the ‘excellent work that is going on locally’.

The decision not to return to the Nevill for the Men’s First XI stems from several considerations. Mr Storey explained: “Standards relating to the players’ and umpires’ facilities continue to rise and the quality of pitches remains key.

“Whilst it’s increasingly difficult to see the return of First XI red-ball cricket to the Nevill, given the ever-rising requirements for first-class venues, first-team white-ball cricket remains a possibility.”

Acknowledging the ‘considerable’ challenges, he suggested the need for a long-term plan to ensure the return to the venue was ‘financially sustainable’.

Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club Chair Mike Webb told the Times that Mr Storey remains ‘extremely positive about bringing first-class cricket to the Nevill’, though in the form of one day matches rather than the County Championship matches that the venue previously held.

Mr Webb added: “As a club, we are focused on making improvements to the Nevill to ensure we are well placed to host first-class matches as and when the opportunity arises.”

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