This is a special year for Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week, as it is the 100th festival week staged at The Nevill Ground. Kent’s matches in the 2012 festival, against Hampshire, Northamptonshire and Sussex, therefore all take on an added significance.
It is the fourth time in seven years that Kent County Cricket Club has chosen to play three separate fixtures during this Cricket Week. The four-day LV= County Championship match has always provided the modern-day focal point of the festival, and this year there is also both a Clydesdale Bank 40 and a Friends Life t20 match for spectators to enjoy.
Can there be anything more precious in the county cricket calendar than the festival cricket weeks? Marquees, hospitality packages, large crowds, beer tents, champagne and a special intimacy between players and spectators – hopefully in gloriously sunny conditions in a scenic setting – make any cricket week an event to savour. Kent Cricket is fortunate to have not just this widely-anticipated festival in its schedule but also the original cricket week of them all, the 170-year-old Canterbury Week that is traditionally held at the St Lawrence Ground in early August.
Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week, however, also has an historic status that few can equal. It dates back to 1902, following the success of the original Kent fixture, against Lancashire, staged at The Nevill Ground the previous year – and so, in essence, it is already 110 years old.
The four-day match against Hampshire this year is, moreover, the 182nd first-class fixture played at The Nevill, while from 1845 until 1884 Kent played no fewer than 28 first-class matches at the ancient Higher Ground on Tunbridge Wells Common – many of them, of course, against neighbours and old rivals Sussex.
But extensive and important research into the history of first-class cricket at The Nevill by members of Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club, which plays its Kent League and many other fixtures on this ground, has established that this 2012 Cricket Week is the 100th festival staged here by Kent.
In 1919, when sporting fixtures resumed following four years of the Great War, Kent’s match against Hampshire at Tunbridge Wells was not designated as a cricket festival week. Yet, in every other year since 1902, outside of the two world wars, Kent has staged a festival week at The Nevill, and it is a tradition which has maintained and even enhanced its appeal
You can read more about that timeless appeal, The Nevill Ground’s proud history, and the particular staging post in that history which this week provides, in the official Tunbridge Wells Cricket Festival Brochure– together with a whole range of features on Kent’s current team and their opponents over what is bound to be six days of keenly-contested cricket. The 42-page, full colour brochure, priced at £3 will be available throughout the Cricket Festival and also from the Kent Cricket Shop at the St Lawrence Ground. If you would like to order a copy for collection you may also do this by contacting the Club.
Let this festival week be a celebration both of its own 100th birthday and of festival cricket itself. And, in the process, why not raise a glass or two to the next 100 years of Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week? Tickets are available now from the Kent Cricket Shop or online by clicking here.