Take a bow, Rose Bowl. You're not perfect yet but it's your day

This could be the start of a magnificent adventure for the Rose Bowl. Tomorrow, it will become the 105th ground in the world to stage Test cricket, the 10th in England, the third new venue on this island in eight years.

For a form of the game that is fighting for its life and is assailed on all sides by young pretenders, it still remains the ultimate badge of honour for any cricketing arena. In the case of the Rose Bowl it goes beyond that – England versus Sri Lanka is a mere staging post. The intention, pure and simple, is that the Rose Bowl will become one of the great sporting grounds of the world.

While it might be heresy to say so, it already puts to shame other historic venues in England. The Rose Bowl is a breath of fresh 21st century air – not least because it is surrounded by open countryside – while other, illustrious, grounds that are laced into the fabric of the game lag behind.

Headingley, Old Trafford and Edgbaston are all fighting to stay in touch. Bold if belated renovations have been announced or have taken place at all three – they had to – but they lack the brio of the new place.

They should be wished well, because of all they have meant to English cricket, but there is an unmistakable sense on entering the Rose Bowl that you are walking into the future. Neither the Riverside in Durham, nor Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, the recent additions to Test grounds, can match its style.

It has come this far because the funding for Hampshire's new headquarters, substantially provided by the Lotteries Commission, was dependent on it being an international as well as domestic venue.

When Rod Bransgrove became Hamsphire's chairman at around the same time, he took his role as benefactor seriously. Bransgrove would admit that he has put noses out of joint in the past 10 years, but without his sense of purpose and hard-headed commercialism the ground would not be where it is today.

It is not perfect. For a start, it is unfinished and only when the 175-bedroom hotel and adjoining golf course are operating, due in 2013, will the Rose Bowl be completed in both commercial and construction senses.

The ground can also be a nightmare for spectators to leave, as many may discover in the next few days, and better road access is essential. But the harsh financial truth is that English cricket will be mightily stretched if it tries to keep the nine remaining Test grounds (Bramall Lane, Sheffield, staged one Test in 1903) provided with Test cricket every year.

Bransgrove said: "There is a suggestion that there is not enough Test cricket to go round because of all the Test match grounds, but my answer to that is that there isn't enough to go round all the grounds all the time.

"The fact is that, with the probable exception of Lord's, grounds shouldn't expect to stage a Test match every year. Alternate years would be perfectly acceptable to the Rose Bowl and I'm sure other grounds if they modified their business model."

Bransgrove's next desire is to stage an Ashes Test there in 2013, and he intends to submit an ambitious bid. He might be a generous benefactor but he has also ensured that Hampshire's business model will be viable long after he goes.

"You only have to look at the place to know it's much more than a domestic ground," he said. "It is a cricket theatre. A friend of mine calls it Planet Cricket." Tomorrow, Test cricket is landing on it. A brave new world.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee