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The Commonwealth Games But At The Outgrounds We Hoped They’d Use

Updated: May 17

Cricket is treading on slightly novel turf in its participation in the Commonwealth Games. Not since 1998 has cricket been hosted in any games and this is the first time the women’s game has been in any multi-sport event.

This year’s games are based in Birmingham with 8 teams participating and all matches receiving T20I status, including those with Barbados competing as a separate entity to the West Indies.

There is much excitement about cricket at these Commonwealth games as there is a general consensus that by introducing cricket in a multinational multi-sport event you open the game up to a wider audience than you would usually.

There is also a hope that by cracking the Olympics, the ICC could use its influence to further push the case for cricket at the 2028 games in Los Angeles.

Be in no doubt, this is a really important move for women's cricket and the game as a whole.

With a lot of team sports at events like the Olympics, the matches are usually held at multiple venues, usually to give time for the groundsmen to do their work! Something that is particularly important for cricket.

It was therefore quite surprising to see that all of the matches at this edition of the Commonwealth Games would be held at Edgbaston.

This means that there will be 16 games played at the home of Warwickshire cricket in 10 days, no doubt putting a huge strain on the ground and the wickets produced.

Outgrounds seem to be becoming more and more unfashionable as counties tend to opt for their traditional centres as much as they possibly can but even this congestion seems a tad bizarre - particularly when you wouldn’t have to travel that far to find alternatives.

We thought we’d look into some of the grounds within the vicinity that could have taken some of the pressure off Edgbaston and deserve some attention.

Bournville Cricket Ground, Bournville

Just 3 miles south of Edgbaston lies Bournville cricket ground.

The name of Bournville will of course be familiar to any chocolate lovers as it gave its name to a Cadbury’s bar nearby their factory. This part of Birmingham was used to house a lot of the workers for Cadbury’s and a community built up around.

As with every village, a ground was needed and the Bournville ground is an incredibly picturesque spot with a fantastic mock-Tudor pavilion with a turret!

This wouldn’t be the first professional cricket at this ground as Worcestershire used to occasionally use the ground in the early 20th Century.

Edgbaston Foundation Ground, Cape Hill

Further to the west of the city centre of Birmingham you also have the Edgbaston Foundation Ground in Cape Hill.

Owned and run by Warwickshire, the Foundation Ground is currently used for youth and second XI cricket by the county as well as by the Central Sparks. Warwickshire men's side have been using the ground on and off since the 1930s too.

Formerly, it was owned by nearby Mitchells & Butlers brewery but underwent an upgrade under Warwickshire control in 2015 with new facilities giving it the capability to host First Class cricket.

Swan’s Nest Lane, Stratford-upon-Avon

Beyond the confines of Birmingham itself you can go to Stratford-upon-Avon to Shakespeare territory and to a leafier surrounding.

Right on the banks of the Avon you have the Swan’s Nest Lane ground next to the Royal Shakespeare theatre.

Warwickshire have been known to visit from time to time and women’s international cricket has been played at the ground with the most recent fixture coming in 2009. It is the home to Stratford-upon-Avon cricket club and would certainly appeal to any sports fans wishing to pick up a bit of culture in between innings!

Rugby School, Rugby

Again, a little further away from Birmingham itself but well within the realms of possibility would be the cricket ground at Rugby School which has begun to hold professional matches in the last 10 years.

The imposing school buildings surrounding the ground and a modern pavilion give the ground a grand feel and would be more than capable of handling some high profile international fixtures as a one-off.

Much like Stratford-upon-Avon, Rugby would give the fans a more rural experience to enjoy their cricket in.

Beyond these four suggestions there are plenty of other places in Warwickshire where some of the games could have been seconded to. Not least to mention other fields in Birmingham like Harbourne, Moseley and Smethwick.

The finals themselves and opening games should of course always be at Edgbaston but a games should always try to use facilities beyond the borders of its main venue where it can and it feels like an opportunity missed not to have some of these matches held elsewhere.

(Cover photo credit: "Cadbury's Factory playing field and Bournville Cricket Pavilion" by ell brown is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

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