Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Worcestershire To Start New Season At New Road After Floods

WORCESTERSHIRE are confident they will stage their opening home LV County Championship match with Kent at New Road next month despite suffering a flood ravaged winter.

The county's headquarters were under several metres of water for almost two months until the end of February.

Provisional plans were put in place to switch the game starting on April 13 to nearby Kidderminster – the venue used after previous floods, including the one in June 2007 which cost the club over one million pounds.

But the ECB's pitches consultant, Chris Wood, gave the thumbs-up to the condition of New Road during a visit to New Road a fortnight ago.

That initial impression was confirmed after a second viewing of the square by Wood and the ECB's head of cricket operations, Alan Fordham on Monday.

It is a massive financial boost for Worcestershire whose multi-million pound corporate and members facility, The View, will be in use during a match for the first time since being completed and opened in September.

Worcestershire chief executive David Leatherdale said: "Chris Wood came and had a look two weeks ago and was gobsmacked about how fine the condition of the grass was on the square after being under water for so long.

"Chris and Alan Fordham came to have another look on Monday and, although there is still work to be done, are comfortable, with a bit more fine weather, of us being able to play cricket at New Road on April 13.

"We have an arrangement with Kidderminster, which has existed for sometime now, whereby a wicket is under preparation which would enable us to move there at short notice given the worse case scenario.

"But huge credit should also be given to head groundsman Tim Packwood and his staff in ensuring we can give out this positive news."

Former Worcestershire all-rounder Leatherdale added: "There is no doubt that it would have been a financial blow had we had to move especially given the positive response in terms of corporate hospitality and from members, old and new, to the new facility (The View).

"That has enabled us to become a 365 days a year business, something that was vital for us to progress as a county, and the last thing we would have wanted was seeing no cricket at New Road on day one of the season.

"Happily, with all things being equal, that scenario will not now happen."

Packwood said: "We were fortunate after the floods gone down in that we had two and a half weeks out of three which were dry and warm and helped the ground dry out.

"We've had the outfield re-seeded and top-dressed especially in the areas that the flood damaged and we will have to over-seed the whole of the square again.

"But we can still prepare wickets and work around that.

"It is nice Kidderminster look after us and let us use the facilities but there is no place like home is there?

"With the new facilities we've got now, we want to showcase the place and get as many people as possible to come to the ground and see what Worceser has to offer."

Worcestershire have switched home pre-season friendlies with Gloucestershire on March 24 and Glamorgan on March 31 to Kidderminster to allow Packwood and his team to continue their work on preparing the square without any interruptions.