A superb innings at Chester Road

From historic matches to some of the greatest players to ever wear whites, Kidderminster Cricket Club’s Chester Road home has hosted them all.

Chester Road North, Kidderminster.
Chester Road North, Kidderminster.

This season the club have celebrated the 150 years at the ground they moved to in 1870 from their previous home at Villers Street.

Kidderminster transported their wooden pavilion by horse and cart, building a ground floor with bricks to house the horse and putting the old structure on top for players.

WG Grace was an early visitor, turning out for Kidderminster in 1883 against The Saxons, when it is claimed he struck one shot so well the ball cleared a house outside the ground. His match fee was £10 and a carpet.

Several decades later, the legendary Basil D’Oliveira played Birmingham League cricket for Kidderminster in 1964 while qualifying for Worcestershire, scoring 706 runs and taking 43 wickets.

Two decades on, the club were treated to an electrifying season from Graeme Hick. Just 17-years-old and having arrived straight from Zimbabwe, he scored 1,234 runs at an average of 70 in the first of four campaigns with the club.

The 182 not out he scored against Moseley set the record for the highest individual score which remains to this day.

D’Oliveira and Hick are among a host of former Kidderminster players who went on to represent England. Others include Arthur Wellard, Roy Tattersall, Fred Rumsey, John Parker and more recently Steve Davies and James Taylor.

Kidderminster rented the ground until 1920 when carpet manufacturer Michael Tomkinson purchased it on their behalf. A pavilion was added in 1925 and a wall built around the perimeter 11 years later.

In 1965, the ground made history during a friendly between Worcestershire and the Cavaliers with the great Denis Compton batting, the Early Bird satellite sent pictures of the game around the world.

Worcestershire have been playing at Chester Road since 1921 and a total of 72 first-class matches have been staged, along with many more second XI games.

Due to regular flooding at New Road, Kidderminster is the official “standby” ground for the Pears. The only County not to have played there is Gloucestershire, with Derbyshire clocking in the most visits having made 14 appearances.

Not all of the ground’s history has been happy. The old pavilion, which admittedly had seen better days and was only used for storage, was sadly destroyed in an unexplained arson attack in April 2008.

Within a couple of years the site was rejuvenated with the building of a masonic lodge, creating a permanent home to several local lodges and bringing many Freemasons to enjoy the facilities offered in the clubhouse and Long Room, along with the cricket.

In recent years the ground, under the care of groundsman Chris Longmore, has become widely respected as one of the best in the Midlands, and has been voted by the Birmingham league as best pitch and outfield for the last four years.

In addition to county cricket, all levels of the game, from under-8s to over-70s, are played at the ground and the club boasts a strong junior section, with youngsters graduating to the senior teams.

The ground also hosted many ICC matches and has been the venue for a number of other prestigious games, including England over 60s and 70s test matches, England disability cricket, international police tournaments and a ladies’ test match between England and Australia.

With the rise in the women’s game, the club is developing a women’s and girls’ section, with teams at U9, U11 and U13, plus the Golden Ducks softball ladies’ team.

Chester Road is also home to the Kidderminster Lions junior football club and the social base for Kidderminster Hockey Club, who, together with KCC, formed the Chester Road Sports and Social Club (CRSSC) some years ago, which has recently become a limited company.

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