Worcestershire County Cricket Club
Worcestershire is one of the smaller of the major cricketing counties. Playing their games at New Road by the River Severn, the club is as famous for the horrific flooding which overwhelms the ground, as its cricketing prowess.
While the floods cause chaos and great expense to the groundsmen, it is local opinion that the water from the Severn keeps the club’s ground looking fresh and makes it one of the best grounds in the country.
A walk around the stands at New Road gives an ironic vindication to the old joke of cricketers being scared off by the rain, with markers throughout the ground showing the extent of the flooding over the club’s history. However, the club has, despite numerous trials and tribulations throughout its history, continued performing in the top tier of English Cricket.
As well as competing in the county championship Worcestershire now also compete in both one-day leagues, 20:20 limited-over matches and floodlit cricket. They are known as the Worcestershire Royals in limited-over cricket.
The Early Years
While the official annals trace the origins of Worcestershire County Cricket back to the 4th March 1865, teams representing the county had been playing far before this. The first recorded incident of a Worcestershire side taking the field was on the 28th August 1844 when a match was played at Hartlebury Common against Shropshire.
In 1846, at Powick Hams, about 3 miles outside the city of Worcester, a second side was fielded to play against William Clarke’s All-England Eleven. Following these initial forays, the first move towards a county cricket side came in the 1850’s when it was decided to make the club inclusive, and to bring together the gentry and the masses to provide a team representing both city and county.
The history of the club records that 5 shilling members will be allowed to play with the bat and ball on two nights a week and to play with the half guinea members one night a week. This marked a definite step towards the club’s more formal form.
However, the official genesis for the club came from a meeting of local gentlemen at the Star Hotel in Worcester’s City Centre on the 4th March 1865. Records from the meeting show a concord being formed that Worcestershire should be able to field a county side and it was agreed that a man and two horses should be hired to lay some turf for a new cricket pitch.
Early games were played against local schools, including Bromsgrove School and Malvern College and this was the tendency for the majority of the 19th Century. It was the inspiration of one man – Paul Foley – a local Worcestershire business man, who founded the Minor Counties Championship and subsequently first gave Worcestershire true county competition, that was to prove key to the club in its early years.
The team was successful in this league and won the championship from 1895-1898. This success in the minor counties championship edified the Midlanders and in 1898 they made an application for official first-class status.
Achieving this status was conditional upon matches being played against 6 county teams. Foley, ever the cricketing enthusiast, arranged these fixtures, the first being against Yorkshire from the 4th-6th May 1899. The early years were not ones of success for the new county players but one family has been remembered for their imperative contribution throughout the period, this was the Foster family of Malvern.
Throughout the latter half of the 19th Century the Fosters graced the Worcestershire ground with a multitude of players, at one point fielding 7 brothers in the Worcestershire side. The Fosters are well remembered at the club and the exclusive dining areas are named after the local family.
The club continued to struggle and in 1913 was almost declared bankrupt. A full audit of the club’s finances was demanded and it emerged that Paul Foley had almost single-handedly underwritten all of the club’s finances and prevented their bankruptcy ever since 1898.
In dire straits the club was almost dispersed but public sentiment rallied by Lord Cobham, Lord Dudley, Lord Plymouth and Judge Amphlett, ensured the clubs survival.
The Modern Era
Worcestershire achieved their first victory in the county championship in 1964 and to commemorate this victory there is a black-pear tree planted at the ground. The black pear has always been a fundament of Worcestershire heritage and can trace its association with the county back to the Worcester Regiment of 1634. In honour of this heritage the current Worcestershire club badge also consists of 3 black-pears.
The club went on to repeat their success in their 100th anniversary (1965) once again sealing victory in the county championship. In celebration of both this and the pivotal playing role of Don Kenyon to the side, there is a copper beech tree at the ground. The other major landmark at the ground is another beech tree, which was planted to mark the contribution of the club’s captain Phil Neale during Worcestershire’s golden era, when they won 5 titles in 6 years.
Worcestershire now plays in the first division of the county cricket championship following promotion in 2006. The club has won the County Championship on five occasions (1964, 1965, 1974, 1988 and 1989).
They have also fielded successful sides in the Sunday League in 1971, 1987 and 1988. In one-day games they won the Natwest Trophy in 1994 and 2007 and the Benson and Hedges Cup in 1991 but have been finalist twelve times. The club also reached the finals of the C&G Trophy in 2002 and 2003.
Tom Graveney, Ian Botham, Graham Dilley, Dick Howarth, Roly Jenkins, Jack Flavell, Len Coldwell, Kapil Dev, Glenn Turner, Tim Curtis, Basil D’Oliveira,
Tom Moody, Graeme Hick, Glenn McGrath, Andy Bichel and Zaheer Khan.
- Highest individual innings: 405* by Graeme Hick v Somerset, 1988
- Most runs in a career: 34,490 by Don Kenyon 1946-1967
- Most wickets in a career: Reg Perks 2143 wickets 1935-1954
- Highest team total: 701/6 declared v Surrey, 2007
- Best bowling in an innings: 9-23 by Fred Root v Lancashire, 1931
- Best bowling in a match: 15-87 by Arthur Conway v Gloucestershire 1914
- Most wickets in a season: 207 by Fred Root, 1925
How to Get There
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