Beauty and the beast resting side by side

AROUND THE GROUNDS No 5: New Road, Worcester

Outside the Test venues, few English cricket grounds can claim to be recognised the cricketing world over. Worcester's New Road is an exception. Camera-clicking tourists frequently arrive during the winter hoping to be shown around.

One suspects they are half hoping to find it under water, a frequent occurrence between December and April. They might also want to take in the view from the pavilion, dominated by the city's imposing cathedral. As the traditional starting point for overseas teams on their tour of the shires, the backdrop is familiar to newspaper readers and television viewers from Barbados to Bangalore.

Nothing will change in respect of either. As part of an officially designated Severn flood plain, the club is compelled to allow the neighbouring river on to its premises whenever it happens to overflow, which can be two or three times a year.

The view, meanwhile, is guaranteed by the terms under which the ground was bought, from the cathedral, for pounds 30,000 in 1976. Nothing can be built to obscure it. Indeed, no development shall detract from the ground's traditional appearance.

Hence the new executive boxes on top of the New Road stand have slate roofs and resemble gable ends. The pounds 1.2m Basil D'Oliveira indoor school, which will replace the existing Severn Bar, is to follow a similar design.

The floods, meanwhile, have long been accepted as a cross the ground must bear. The annual budget contains provision for clearing up, in which groundsman Roy McLaren and his team are well practised.

Happily, the catastrophe of 1947, when the pavilion bar was submerged under 3ft 6in of water, has not been repeated. Indeed, last winter was the first for 12 years without a flood.

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