Another chapter in the long and proud history of the former M&B ground in Portland Road will open next year when Warwickshire play two Royal London Cup games there.
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The former brewery ground, now the Edgbaston Community Sports Ground, will host the Bears’ first team for the first time in 59 years when they face Northamptonshire on Wednesday 22 July and then Leicestershire on Tuesday 28 July.
Warwickshire have owned the site since 2014 when they bought it from developers Persimmon for just £1. Refurbished and restored, it has since hosted 15 2nd XI Championship matches with the pitches earning favourable reviews.
It has also become home to the Warwickshire Women’s and Girls team who are now based at the ground where Rachel Heyhoe-Flint led England Women to a six-wicket victory over The Rest in 1975.
Work will now get underway to upgrade spectator facilities before the Men’s first team return next July.
The venue is embedded deep in the city and the region’s cricket history. It is the only ground in the world which has witnessed match-winning performances from both Jack Bannister and Ray Barlow!
Portland Road’s most famous day (so far) arrived in 1959 when Bannister recorded the best first-class bowling figures for Warwickshire – 23.3-11-41-10 – against Combined Services. Four years earlier, West Bromwich Albion legend Barlow had been the star, showing that his sporting artistry was not confined to football as he top-scored in the match with 37 and then took five-for 29 as the Baggies beat Aston Villa by 49 runs.
The Baggies and Villa were regular visitors in that era while Portland Road has also hosted international cricket (four ICC Trophy matches featuring Denmark, Sri Lanka, Bermuda, Papua New Guinea and the Netherlands between 1979 and 1986).
Thirteen first-class matches were also played there, between 1931 and 1961. In the clubhouse today, Bannister’s all-ten feat is celebrated by a montage of photographs which underline the significance of the venue’s history – a history which will grow when the Bears face the Northamptonshire there next July.