By MARCUS HOOK
DIRECTIONS: (Satnav - SE11 5SS) The ground is situated on the A202, near the junction just south of Vauxhall Bridge. It is also a 5-10 minute car journey from Victoria and Waterloo railway stations. By Underground - Take the Northern Line from the City or Central London to the Oval tube station. The main entrance to the ground is 150 metres on your left on leaving the underground station. The Oval is also a 5-10 minute walk from Vauxhall tube station, which is on the Victoria line. By Rail - Take South West Trains to Vauxhall, which is a short walk from the ground. The station is well served by trains from throughout Surrey and Hampshire, as well as from Clapham Junction and Waterloo. Public transport from Vauxhall station - Buses to the Kia Oval (36, 436 and 185) run from the terminus just outside station, as indeed they do from outside Victoria station. Further away, the 36 and 436 also run from and to Paddington station.
CAR PARKING: There are a limited number of car parking spaces reserved for members of the fourth estate at the Vauxhall End of the ground. These must be booked in advance with Jon Surtees (07813-130331). If Jon cannot be contacted, try Jack Wilson-Mumford. On major match days one of the allocated car parks, at Vauxhall School, is INSIDE the Congestion Charge zone. The zone, which costs an extortionate £11.50, is in operation between 07:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday.
FACILITIES: The Sydney Pardon press box, which is on the first floor of the OCS Stand (access via the Debenture Holders' entrance), seats up to 80 people. The press box has four rows of banked seating with more available outside, which is just as well because visibility from within the press box at is poor; hence it also being known on the circuit as the Stevie Wonder press box. The switch for turning on the ambient sound is at the end of the back row of seating on the left hand side of the box (as one faces the pitch). Wireless and hard-wired internet access is available on all match days. The main Press Association contact for Surrey is Mark Baldwin. The local newspaper contact is Marcus Hook (who freelances for the South London Press, 07941-226694). The main club PR contacts are Jon Surtees (general media queries, e.g. press releases, catering, scorecards, lockers etc., 07813-130331) and Richard Spiller (formerly of the Surrey Advertiser). Metal gym changing room-style coin lockers are available, should you wish to store items on site overnight. There is a tendency for the press box to be on the cold side, which means having to take a jumper with you even on a hot day. The public address feed into the press box is hardly ever available, consequently the press are denied the chance of hearing the dulcet tones of Brian Raine (or, more importantly, news of the toss, team and bowling changes and details of 50s, 100s etc.). The press lounge is situated behind the press box. In 2017, the press catering at the Oval reverted to a very high standard. Local boozers for lunch time relief: The best pubs close to the Kia Oval are the Beehive (on the corner of Durham Road and Harleyford Road) at the Vauxhall End of the ground; while, at the Pavilion End, there is the Hanover Arms in Kennington Road (from the main entrance, go to the Oval underground station and turn right). Local sandwich bars/delis/supermarkets: The closest supermarket is Tesco, which is a five-minute walk away, in Kennington Lane (from the Alec Stewart Gate, head toward the gasholders, turn left into Vauxhall Street - where the no entry signs are - and at the end of there you will see Tesco on your right).
ACCOMMODATION: It's likely to be a case of surfing the internet for a deal. Hotel prices in London are almost double what one expect to pay elsewhere in the country, plus very few London hotels have on-site car parking. One option is to book a hotel on the outskirts of town and commute in, but here are a handful of establishments close to the Oval which score highly in terms of customer ratings - 4 STAR HOTELS: Belgrave Hotel, SW1V 2BJ (020-7828-8661); DoubleTree by Hilton, SW1P 4DD (020-7630-1000); Georgian House Hotel, SW1V 4DG (020-7834-1438); Park Plaza Riverbank, SE1 7TJ (0844-8545290); Park Plaza Victoria, SW1V 1EQ (0844-4156750). 3 STARS: Best Western Corona Hotel, SW1V 2BQ (020-7828-9279); Holiday Inn Express Vauxhall, SW8 1RN (020-7420-4956); Lidos Hotel, SW1V 2BB (020-7828-1164); Luna And Simone Hotel, SW1V 2BB (020-7834-5897); Tommyfield Hotel, SE11 4EZ (020-7735-1061); Z Hotel, SW1W 0NR (020-3589-3990).
LEISURE: There are a number of decent pubs within stumbling distance of the Oval - The Beehive, SE11 5JA; The Hanover Arms, SE11 4PP; The Roebuck, SW8 1NE and The Fentiman Arms, SW8 1LA. Best greasy spoon: Kennington Lane Cafe, 383 Kennington Lane, SE11 5QY (020-7735-5853), close to the overground station at Vauxhall. Best curry house: Kennington Tandoori, 313 Kennington Road, SE11 4QE (020-7735-3726).
DIRECTIONS: Leave the A3 at the main Guildford Town Centre exit. For those travelling west when they come off the A3, turn left at the bottom of the hill and then turn immediately right at the traffic lights, so that you're travelling west on Ladymead (A25). At the next set of lights bear left into Woodbridge Road (A322). Go straight over the roundabout, under the railway bridge and past the cafe and you will see the cricket ground on your right. By Rail - Take South West Trains to Guildford. As you come out of the railway station, cut left across the car park, walk down the ramp and cross over Walnut Tree Close. Cross the small bridge over the River Wey and head in the direction of the multi-storey car park close to the Odeon cinema. Walk past the Crown Court in Bedford Road and carry on in the direction of Mary Road, which leads to William Road. You will eventually come to a lane at the end of William Road. Turn right up the lane and you will find yourself at the main entrance to the cricket ground.
CAR PARKING: The Railway End of the ground is turned into a large car park during Festival Week. Ring Jon Surtees (07813-130331) or George Foster (07711-608721) to get your name added to the list. If you miss out, free car parking is also available adjacent to Guildford College, in Stoke Road.
FACILITIES: The press tent, which is big enough to accommodate half a dozen writers at a squeeze, has a limited amount of power sockets and unreliable wi-fi strength. The press tent is shared with the scorers, the PA announcer and the OPTA man, which is just as well because the main scoreboard cannot be seen by the written press. Tea and coffee is delivered to the tent, if and when requested. For lunch, brown paper bags are provided, one per person. These contain a clingfilm-wrapped sandwich/roll, a packet of crisps, a chocolate bar and an item of fruit. If that isn't sufficient, I suggest you bring some backup supplies, especially a bottle of water. There is, however, a very good (and reasonably priced) refreshments marquee on the main forecourt, which is run by Guildford CC. Nearby pubs include The Drummond (Woodbridge Road, GU1 4RF) and The Kings Head (Stoke Road, GU1 4JW).
ACCOMMODATION: Over the years, the combination of traffic/accidents on the A3 and the so-called "service" provided by South West Trains, has meant that Guildford is like a Surrey away game. Mark Baldwin, who regularly covers the Guildford Festival for The Times, says that in future he'll consider hiring a camper van and parking it at the Railway End. So, if you want to ensure you're there for ball one, it is recommended you book somewhere to stay. 4 STAR HOTELS: Angel Posting House & Livery, GU1 3DP (01483-564555); Holiday Inn, GU2 7XZ (0871-9429036); Mandolay, GU1 2AE (01483-303030); Radisson Blu Edwardian, GU1 3DA (01483-792305). 3 STARS: Asperion Hotel, GU2 7PF (01483-579299).
LEISURE: Best greasy spoon: Woodbridge Cafe, Woodbridge Road, GU1 4RN (01483-531453), next to the cricket ground. Other eateries in Guildford worth a visit include: Al Vicolo, 5 Swan Lane, GU1 4EQ (01483-506306); Five Guys, 25 Friary Street, GU1 4EH (01483-570580); Jamie's Italian, 13 Friary Passage, GU1 4EH (01483-600920); Rodboro Buildings, 1-10 Bridge Street, GU1 4SB (01483-306366).