Club Cricket Conference

Tuesday, 23rd April 2024

Radlett set to join list of county championship venues

By Charles Randall

4 March 2014

The newest out-ground on the county championship roster could be Radlett CC in Hertfordshire, if Middlesex's plans for 2015 reach fruition.

Tony Johnson, Radlett's chairman, disclosed at the club's AGM last week that a dedicated strip had been laid on the square at Cobden Hill for the purpose of hosting a four-day game next year. If the pitch proves to be satisfactory, he said, Middlesex will be arranging a match in addition to the county's usual second XI fixtures.

The good news for Hertfordshire comes at a time when the number of out-ground championship matches has been declining, with Horsham now slipping into danger. Sussex, after posting a loss in 2013, recently announced they wanted to end the Horsham festival unless substantial financial backing could be found. In the home counties Guildford, Colchester & East Essex, Uxbridge and Tunbridge Wells still fly the flag as championship club venues, but nobody can feel completely secure in the recession.

Radlett hosted Middlesex's 40-over game against Yorkshire in 2013, but this would be the first championship game at the ground. It is significant for the cricket community in the Watford, St Albans and Borehamwood vicinity as very little first class cricket has been played in Hertfordshire to date. The most recent match would be 1996, when MCC drew with South Africa A at Shenley Park, Radlett's previous home ground until they moved back into the village in 1938. Andy Flower hit 70 for an MCC side captained by Hugh Morris.

Radlett, if all goes well, should be a fine characterful venue, with almost unlimited parking and a Thameslink railway station about half a mile away. The facilities, part of a £600,000 joint-investment in 2012, have been upgraded for use as Middlesex's training base, and the lofty pavilion, originally cedarwood, has been much loved on the Herts club circuit for many years. The most eminent Radlett player to represent Middlesex has been John Carr, while Gareth Berg has established himself on the current staff. Test players who have played as amateurs in the past for Radlett - though not produced by the club - have been Douglas Jardine, Donald Carr, Richard Hutton and Dave Houghton.

The current Radlett team, captained by the former Hampshire batsman Jono McLean, won the last Home Counties Division Two East title in 2013 and will be challenging for another crown in the newly formed Hertfordshire Premier League after the breakaway from the Home Counties League.