Jamie Clifford’s Welcome – Tunbridge Wells Festival – 25-28 May 2014

Sunday 25th May 2014

Everyone at Kent County Cricket Club is delighted to be back at The Nevill Ground for our annual visit to Tunbridge Wells. There has been Kent cricket played on this ground since 1901, and it is always a special time of the season to come here and experience the festival atmosphere.

It is disappointing that we have not been able to stage a full Festival Week this year, although I am sure this four-day LV= County Championship fixture against Worcestershire, who have started the season so well and are setting the pace in Division Two, will provide some excellent cricket for the good crowds that Tunbridge Wells always seems to attract.

The reasons for the lack of one-day fixtures to accompany this championship game is well-known: for financial reasons, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council were not able to give the same support as they have in past years and particularly with regards to erecting the large temporary stand which is usually positioned to the right of the pavilion.

It costs a considerable amount to fund thisalone, an expense the Borough Council did not feel it could justify in the present economic climate. It is also a non-starter for us simply to pick up that bill. Without the sizeable extra capacity the stand provides, of course, we were not in a position to schedule a NatWest T2o Blast match, or matches, here as the ground would not be able to hold the sort of crowd we need to make staging one-day cricket at the Nevill both financially viable and safe.

I am not about to criticise the Borough Council for their decision, as it is theirs to make, and also because they have always given us tremendous support during Tunbridge Wells Week. All I hope, though, is that we will be able to return to a full week of five or six days’ cricket in 2015.

What I will say, here and now, is that the immediate future of Tunbridge Wells Week does need to be sorted out very soon. We love coming here, and our commitment as a county club to developing outground cricket remains strong. We are redeveloping Beckenham as a northern base for Kent Cricket, and we hope to have a number of fixtures there every season from next year.

We are also looking at staging Kent games again at The Mote in Maidstone at some stage in the future, and work continues to be done at Folkestone with a view to enticing us back there. So, in short, Tunbridge Wells Festival needs to be secured.I would urge action from all those with an interest in making that happen.

All of us at Kent want to continue to work with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council into the long term, for the promotion of county cricket in this town and this area, but perhaps there might be a third party – whether it be a headline festival sponsor, or a group of private individuals – who would want to come on board and help to secure this great traditional Festival Week’s future?

I am glad the continuity of annual cricket at Tunbridge Wells is being kept going by this fixture, and I hope Kent Cricket never have to break our long relationship with The Nevill. I hope everyone enjoys the game and don’t forget to come along to what is a six-day Canterbury Cricket Week this year, in August.

TakenFrom the Match Guide for Tunbridge Wells Festival