Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Minor county cricket, here we come....

Sat here watching the first morning of the 'desert-ed' test in Dubai the Jessop Tavern View is feeling inspired again. There's nothing like a little bit of mystery spin with your corn flakes to get the cricket juices flowing. It also seems like quite a pertinent time to climb back into the blogging saddle. Watching cricket, in a town where no one really cares for the game, and in a nicely developed ground that is full to bursting with empty seats....it's what Nevil Road could have been if it weren't for those pesky politicians.

Ah yes, Gloucestershire's ground redevelopment proposal has been turned down and the Jessop Tavern View is now cursing the couple of minutes it wasted sending a begging email to the planning committee asking them to let the oversized, rowdy student flats (with no parking) to be built. Ok ok. So they weren't student flats in the final proposal, but the damn proposal went through so many changes we might have been applying to build a leper colony for all we know.

Last Wednesday, Bristol City council turned down the proposal in a narrow vote of 6 to 4. Kaiser Tom was predictably, "bitterly disappointed", presumably because he will actually now have to come up with a feasible solution to financing Gloucestershire cricket rather than relying on the dream that was a solitary international fixture every year.

The Kaiser commented.“This decision means that the International cricket programme in Bristol now stops and will be lost forever.  Furthermore, our overall future in Bristol is also in doubt.  It is no secret that Gloucester would be very keen to have us.  The funding from the development will be lost and the City risks losing what could be its only sports stadium. We need to consider our options, but time is running out.” 

Now the Jessop Tavern knows very little about the goings on in the boardroom of Gloucestershire County Cricket club. We're are imagining lots of cups of tea, some nice sandwiches, and then some editing of the poster for international fixture. Exactly how 'keen' Gloucester are to having county cricket is difficult to guage. We're a little skeptical.The story is that we would go and play at the old Wagon Ground, where we played between 1923 and 1992, and where Wally hammond was scored 317 out of a total of 400. Now the Jessop Tavern doesn't really remember these glory days, but we do wondering exactly where the money would come from in order to build the infrastructure needed for this site to host professional (well, sort of..) cricket.

So what happens next? There is talk of an appeal, but surely this is wasted effort. You have to love how Gloucestershire's official line is that there was "extensive public consultation" over the planning application, so extensive in fact that local residents formed a very well organised campaign group, Howzat. Clearly the club listened hard to what the locals wanted. Howzat explain why the proposal was turned down.

So based on this, its unlikely that any appeal would be able to address the 3 principal reasons for turning down the proposal in the first place. We are no experts, but who the hell for a seven story building was going to fit into the local area.....especially without enough car parking!

So where does the club go from here? What does this mean for the conditional contracts offered to Chris Taylor and Hamish O'Marshall. Who will replace Marshall's 401 runs? Is minor county cricket an inevitability? Would Jon Batty score any runs at this level?

Is it time for Gloucestershire to take a serious look at themsleves and reconsider exactly what sort of cricket club they are? I guess the curse of having such a large, and reasonably developed ground is that it has left Gloucestershire some what in limbo. A club that, in reality, are too small for their ground. Having a ground that has the potential to hold international cricket meant that increasingly over the last few years the principal focus of Gloucestershire cricket club was to provide for an international fixture at Bristol, in much the same way that county cricket provides for Test cricket. The only reason the cricket club existed was so that an international match could be held.

Now that will have to change. With no international matches set for the future Gloucestershire county cricket club will have to think about....well, cricket. It won't be an easy transition. But wouldn't it be nice to see the club move to a nice small, intimate ground that had a bit of personality, and to see a group of youngsters try to earn their spurs. It surely sounds better than more years watching Jon Batty and O'Mish running around Nevil Road.