By GEORGE DOBELL
DIRECTIONS: (Satnav - B5 7QU) The main entrance to the Edgbaston Cricket Ground is on Edgbaston Road (B4217), which is just off Pershore Road (A441). Public Transport: The nearest main-line railway stations, situated approximately 1 mile from the ground, are Birmingham New Street, Birmingham Moor Street and Birmingham Snow Hill. Taxi services are readily available. Bus numbers 45 and 47 from the City Centre run along Pershore Road (A441).For further public transport information telephone Traveline on 0871 200 2233. By Car: From M6 - Leave at Junction 6, follow signs for "A38(M) City Centre" and then "A38 South West" through Queensway Tunnel, turn left at 1st set of traffic lights and then right at the roundabout onto the A441 (Pershore Road). From Wolverhampton - A4123 and A456 (Hagley Road) to Five Ways, follow signs to Moseley and Edgbaston (B4217). From M40 - Join M42 (M42 west and M5), leaving at Junction 3. Follow A435 towards Birmingham, through Kings Heath and turn left to Edgbaston. From Solihull/Stratford - Leave Stratford Road (A34) at College Road. Follow signs for Moseley and Edgbaston (B4217). From Worcester/Bromsgrove - A38 or M5 (leave at Junction 4) through Northfield and Selly Oak, turning right at Priory Road traffic lights (B4217).
CAR PARKING: For most county games there will be ample free media parking. Take a ticket from the machine as you enter the ground and park on the gravel to the left. You can validate your ticket at reception which will ensure you can leave without paying. For major matches you will need to liaise with the ECB, but there should be parking available in Hunters Court (just off Pershore Road). If cycling, the ground is adjacent to the Rea Valley Cycle Way. Cycle Racks are available.
FACILITIES: Edgbaston has recently undergone an extensive redevelopment and the excellent new press box is on the top floor of the new pavilion complex. The press box is best accessed off Edgbaston Road via door E2. Enter via the club’s main reception (the large blue part of the new building) and ask directions as required. You may also require a code to access the press box. Either call Tom in advance (details below) or ask upon arrival. Contacts: Tom Rawlings is the best first point of contact. His number is 07770 728409 (that is Abi Dollery’s old work number). Email TomRawlings@edgbaston.com He is, in effect, the press officer. He will arrange a press conference every evening as required. Tea, coffee, orange juice and water is also available in the press box lounge, which is immediately behind the box. A very good lunch is provided at first-class games – go to the members’ restaurant on the second floor of the new pavilion and show your press pass at the till. Sandwiches and crisps are delivered to the box during Twenty20 matches.
ACCOMMODATION: It can be more difficult finding a hotel room in Birmingham than you would think. There are plans for a hotel to be built as part of the redevelopment of the area around the ground but, for now, it may well pay to book somewhere well in advance. The Hyatt, just off Broad Street, is one of the better hotels. Norma Major refers to it as her favourite hotel in the world (01216 431234). Malmaison is also good. It’s located in The Mailbox near New Street and can be contacted on (01212 465000). The England team tend to stay there these days. Many years ago they used to stay at The Plough & Harrow (on the Hagley Road), but it’s seen better days and is now a budget hotel. Their number is (01214 544111). For those on very low budgets, the Hagley Road offers a huge choice of cheap hotels. These range from £18 b&b upwards.
LEISURE: The Plough in Harborne is excellent. The Black Eagle is a more traditional pub, but equally good and provides outstanding value for money. Both serve good food, real ale and have beer gardens. The Plough clientele is, generally, younger.
BIRMINGHAM – EDGBASTON COMMUNITY SPORTS GROUND
The ground is actually the revamped original Portland Road ground in Smethwick, Birmingham B17 8LS which is now known as the Edgbaston Community Sports Ground after being acquired by the County Club. The Edgbaston Foundation Ground, formerly the Mitchells & Butlers ground, on Portland Road, on the Smethwick / Birmingham border, has a rich history, not least as the site at which Jack Bannister recorded the best first-class bowling figures for Warwickshire (23.3-11-41-10) versus Combined Services in 1959. Opened on August 2, 1930, the venue hosted County Championship and other first-class matches for 30 years and was one of the great homes of Birmingham League cricket for over three decades after that. But its days as a cricket venue appeared over when, in 1993, the M&B Brewery team resigned from the Birmingham League.
The cricket square was removed and became part of a football pitch and, while the land remained an open space, cricket no longer featured. In 2006, Persimmon Homes purchased the Cape Hill Brewery site. The sports facilities, however, were protected by a Section 106 agreement which meant that the land had to remain in sporting use for adjacent development to be permitted – and that led to a remarkable opportunity for Warwickshire CCC. In November 2014, they bought the land from Persimmon Homes, spotting an opportunity to rebuild it as a cricket ground for the local community and also relieve some of the pressure on Edgbaston in preparation for the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 and ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019. A second base, just five minutes from HQ, was there for the taking if they could meet the asking price from Persimmon Homes which was £1 – money very well spent! Edgbaston Foundation Ground contains plenty of nods to history. Spectators can watch the cricket from the old, concrete steps from which their predecessors cheered Jack Bannister to his all-10 57 years ago. In the clubhouse, Jack's feat is celebrated by a montage of photographs which underline the venue's significance. And significant, it is. While thousands of wickets have been delivered by Warwickshire bowlers a short hop away at Edgbaston, the best analysis ever recorded for the county was here. Portland Road is up and running again. That could just have been the best pound any cricket club ever spent!
FACILITIES: The ground has temporary media facilities and a wifi-code can be gained from Warwickshire CCC media staff. Car parking is available adjacent to the ground for press and media.
ACCOMMODATION: Local accommodation to ground - please refer (above) to the main Edgbaston entry and hotels in Birmingham city centre.