County Cricket 2015: 10 outgrounds to visit in the coming season

From Arundel to Scarborough, the most picturesque spots to watch cricket

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The Independent Online

Mere days after the World Cup ended in Australia the English domestic season is upon us.

After the extravaganza of six-hitting offered up to bumper crowds Down Under, it will be comforting for connoisseurs of the county game to return to a more familiar spectacle.

This, of course, means players wearing four pullovers competing on green-tinged wickets in front of a handful of hardy spectators armed with thermos flasks and the Playfair Cricket Annual.

With grounds across Britain expanding in a bid to host money-spinning international fixtures, the atmosphere at sparsely-attended County Championship fixtures can become a little bleak.

Luckily, counties still occasionally venture to provincial outgrounds, where matches are routinely played in picture-perfect surroundings in front of enthusiastic packed houses. This season they are particularly prevalent: 84 days of cricket will be played at additional venues by 13 of the 18 first-class counties.

So if you yearn for a world away from garish, state-of-the-art media centres and a return to ‘the way things were’, here are ten of the nation's best outgrounds hosting county fixtures this season. Just pray it doesn’t rain…

Arundel Castle

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Arundel Castle Cricket Club (Getty Images)

Why it’s worth the visit:

Because its location in the shadow of the town's fabulous castle makes Arundel one of the country's most picturesque grounds.

When to go: Sussex vs Surrey (T20) 14 June; Sussex vs Durham (CC Div 1) 15-18 June

Cheltenham

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Cheltenham College Cricket Ground (Getty Images)

Why it’s worth the visit:

Because Cheltenham College provides a stunning backdrop to a two-week festival of local ale, cider and cricket.

When to go: Gloucs vs Northants (CC Div 2) 8-11 July; Gloucs vs Kent (T20) 12 July; Gloucs vs Hampshire (T20) 14 July; Gloucs vs Leics (CC Div 2) 15-18 July

Chesterfield

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Queen's Park, Chesterfield (Getty Images)

Why it’s worth the visit:

Because of the enchanting old-school pavilion and the trees that surround the cosy playing area.

When to go: Derbyshire vs Northants (T20) 5 July; Derbyshire vs Glamorgan (CC Div 2) 6-9 July; Derbyshire vs Yorkshire (T20) 12 July

Guildford

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Woodbridge Road, Guildford (Getty Images)

Why it’s worth the visit:

Because its short boundaries and fine track usually produce runs: it was the venue where Ali Brown plundered the world's first one-day double hundred.

When to go: Surrey vs Derbyshire (RL Cup) 2 August; Surrey vs Glamorgan (CC Div 2) 15-18 June

Horsham

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Horsham Cricket and Sports Club (Getty Images)

Why it’s worth the visit:

Because of the history (the ground has been in use for more than 150 years) and for its setting in the West Sussex countryside.

When to go: Sussex vs Notts (CC Div 1) 19-22 July; Sussex vs Lancs (RL Cup) 26 July

Richmond

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The Old Deer Park, Richmond (Getty Images)

Why it’s worth the visit:

Because it's within the grounds of the Old Deer Park, a royal hunting park established more than 400 years ago which also houses the King's Observatory and Kew Gardens.

When to go: Middlesex vs Gloucs (T20) 14 June; Middlesex vs Essex (T20) 10 July

Scarborough

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North Marine Road Ground, Scarborough (Getty Images)

Why it’s worth the visit:

Because it’s right by the beach, offering the opportunity for seaside fish and chips at tea, and because the Scarborough Festival is still going strong as it approaches its 129th edition.

When to go: Yorkshire vs Worcs (CC Div 1) 19-22 July; Yorkshire vs Gloucs (RL Cup) 26 July; Yorkshire vs Somerset (RL Cup) 5 August

Southport

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Trafalgar Road Ground, Southport (Getty Images)

Why it’s worth the visit:

Because it’s another excuse for a seaside visit or a quick round of golf: the ground is a stone’s throw from the Royal Birkdale, which has hosted The Open nine times.

When to go: Lancashire vs Derbyshire (CC Div 2) 24-27 May

Swansea

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St Helen's Cricket Ground, Swansea (Getty Images)

Why it’s worth the visit:

Because its steeply-banked stands were peppered when Sir Garfield Sobers struck six sixes in an over for the first time in cricket history when playing for Notts against Glamorgan here in 1968.

When to go: Glamorgan vs Sussex (RL Cup) 5 August; Glamorgan vs Gloucs (CC Div 2) 6-9 August

Tunbridge Wells

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The Nevill Ground, Tunbridge Wells (Getty Images)

Why it’s worth the visit:

Because of its history: the original pavilion was burned down by suffragettes in 1913, while the ground played host to India’s dramatic victory over Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup, one of the competition’s great matches.

When to go: Kent vs Glamorgan (T20) 17 July; Kent vs Essex (CC Div 2) 19-22 July; Kent vs Essex (RL Cup) 26 July

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