Please be aware that any opinions are my own and are not representative of any North Wales League official, player or club (especially Llandudno CC)
Favourite cricket grounds anyone?
This weekend gone, I played at the exceptionally picturesque Pontblyddyn cricket ground.
Even though the cloud cover was fairly dense, it was still mightily warm at Alder Meadow, confirming my prior thoughts that it is the hottest place in the world! If the sun is out when you are there, get your SPF factor 100 on!
It also got me thinking about which other grounds I have played on that I have enjoyed, not because of personal performance, but because of the scenery and setting.
So, I have decided to rank my top 10 cricket grounds from around the country. As always when you do a list like this, ground rules are needed, otherwise The Oval will be number 1.
Rule 1. I can not select my home ground (The Llandudno Oval)
Rule 2. I must have played a full fixture on the ground and must give my reasons. The top 5 will get more detail.
Rule 3. I cannot let personal or team performances affect my judgement of the ground.
Grounds 10-6 are as follows:
10 Usk Cricket Club
Probably unlucky to be sitting this low but when I played there it was a damp day so didn’t get full value for my time there. The in-built scoreboard/pavilion combo is a great feature.
9 Rydal School
Set within the school grounds, surrounded by trees and large, feature-filled houses. A great ground to play at for the school which has hosted junior international cricket.
8 Colwyn Bay Cricket Club
A Glamorgan out ground for a reason. The raised grass bank provides an excellent view for spectators and the outfield is like a carpet. Had many a great game at this ground, one springs to mind pretty quickly… (Sorry, broke rule 3 here. But I don’t care!)
7 Hawarden Park Cricket Club
Cracking postage stamp ground set within the fields of a manor house. Generally a belter of a pitch, small boundaries which meant hard work for the bowlers…
6 St Fagan’s Cricket Club
With 3 separate fields of play, surrounded by trees and a slightly elevated pavilion on pitch 1.
A bowling green (all the best grounds have one!) to one side. A genuinely massive club but with a very close knit feel around the ground.
Moving into the top 5 and this is where it became even tougher to decide on.
There are so many grounds, especially in North Wales that could feature on this list.
Some of note that haven’t made the top 10 are the likes of Holyhead Cricket Club (changing rooms), Bethesda (views behind pavilion) and Brymbo (feels like a proper cricket ground) – all could have been included for very different reasons.
5 Menai Bridge Cricket Club
The view over the Menai Strait is one of the best in the UK and is worth a visit alone.
I played here as a junior when it was a wooden shed in a field. Now a proper cricket ground. The boundaries are tight and characterful and make for high scoring contests. The trees that surround the area make it a sun trap in the summer.
A very pleasant place to play and watch cricket. The plans that they have to extended look exciting for the club and I look forward to seeing what they do.
4 Panteg Cricket Club
An out-ground host venue of the Welsh Cup Final.
You drive down a small driveway off the main road to get there. You park alongside the pavilion, which sits a top a grass bank, similar to the one at Colwyn Bay and a little to the left of the square as you look down.
You walk down the stairs from the changing rooms onto the playing surface. Along the opposite side of the ground is a line of tall trees guarded by a taller, white picket fence. I thoroughly enjoyed playing at Panteg and hope to play there again.
3 Marchwiel and Wrexham Cricket Club
Although I have not played here for a number of years, I still remember this ground vividly.
The drive down the track to get to the ground, past the rolling fields. The traditional wooden pavilion frontage with over hanging awning.
Opposite the pavilion sits the manor house on whose grounds the cricket pitch sits. To the right, as you look at the house, a field where horses grazed until a large appeal for LBW startled them away. But the biggest feature of the ground is sat behind the pavilion. The foliage and trees that lined the perimeter were there for a very good reason. To protect from flying paintballs!
Every so often as you wait for the bowler to steam in, you would hear “BOOM” as gunfire rained from afar. If you have never experienced it before, you don’t half s**t yourself the first time you hear it!
2 Pontblyddyn Cricket Club
This club has everything. A two-tiered pavilion, with players looking from the balcony onto the playing surface.
It is surrounded by a river and you have to cross a small bridge to get to the pitch. As you leave the bridge, you pass a tree on the outfield (rumour has it, it has been there even longer than Glenn!) which until this week, I had never seen hit. Cue, three balls smashing into it.
When you get to the middle, you are surrounded by trees, which line the border of the river. At the top end, sits an old stone farm house which, I can imagine, gets peppered by the ball striking the masonry work.
Chasing the ball up the hill can be hard work, especially if the sun shines and it is hot.
For me, it is the best ground in North Wales. I would say the best in Wales, or possibly the UK but for only one thing…. It is the victim of its own brilliance as water levels from the river make it almost impossible to keep dry. But there is nothing the club can do about that.
1 Sophia Gardens – Glamorgan County Cricket Club
Absolute no-brainer. It is a world-class facility.
You will never walk down as many steps to get onto a ground as this. From the changing room, you walk down the carpeted stairs towards the main entrance hall, before turning and heading outside.
You walk down more steps outside, although the concrete steps outside are horrible to go down. They are too shallow to go one at a time, but too long to take two in one go.
Combined with wearing spikes and you end up looking like a toddler conquering stairs for the first time as you walk down them!
The playing surface is massive. Don’t believe what they show you on the TV. The pros may hit the ball into the River Taff constantly, but it is a bigger hit than it looks for us club players to get to the fence.
The scoreboard sits on the side of the indoor cricket school and the scorers sat at the top of the Cathedral Road end of the ground, which must have been some view!
Although we played in front of a few hundred people, you get the feeling of what it would be like if the ground was sold out. It would be a buzz to play in that scenario.
In the changing room, the players sit on leather sofas to change and there is a pool table sitting in the middle of the room.
Teas were brought into the changing room, which meant we could chill out while eating. A different world to what we are used to.
So, those are my top 10 grounds, what would yours be?
Send your choices of favourite cricket grounds (and the reasons why you rate them) to firstname.lastname@example.org