Day Four began the next leg of our journey, as we moved away from the sea in order to visit London and its surrounding counties. First up was Kent, at the Spitfire St Lawrence Ground at Canterbury.
When stepping off the train at East Canterbury, one cannot miss the ancient Roman city wall that towers above you; it’s clear there’s more to Canterbury than the Archbishop. We made our way to the ground through narrow country lanes, the bright green trees making it obvious as to why Kent is known as the Garden of England. Walking into the reception at Canterbury, one knows they have reached a cricket ground, the deep blue of the England Women’s shirts visible on the TV in the background, as the office kept a keen eye on the ongoing ODI.
The grass-bank seating gives the ground a warm and friendly feel, reminiscent of how crowds would have watched county cricket in the late 19th century. The pitch is ringed by trees, the infamous lime among them having been replanted outside the boundary rope in 2005. At the far side of the ground, another distinctive feature of Kent’s ground looms: the largest manually operated scoreboard on the county circuit, functioning entirely on a pulley system. It may prove hard work for its two operators with the fast pace of T20’s, but it is surely a job any cricket fan would be privileged to have.
We then moved on to the Academy, the hallways lined with shirts of players of the likes of Joe Denly and Lydia Greenway. It was truly remarkable to note the number of current Kent players who had come up through the academy. 2009/10 stood out as a particularly special year, which included Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sam Billings and Adam Riley amongst its graduates, who look likely to be the future leaders of the county. It is of little doubt that the tight-knit dressing room at Canterbury owes much to the players’ journey through the Academy together.
It would not be Canterbury without a visit to the world-renowned cathedral, and it did not disappoint, although the Archbishop was not there to greet us in person.
Our tour continues, after a rest weekend, at the Oval and Chelmsford on Monday for the start of the Royal London One Day Cup. We will be there in white Shooting Star Chase Hospice t-shirts so please come and say hi if you’re there.
A quick reminder: the aim of this trip is to raise money for Shooting Star Chase Hospice, Middlesex CCC’s official charity partner, who do tremendous work in bettering the lives of children and their families for kids with terminal illnesses. They need £9.5 million a year to maintain their brilliant service, and we would highly appreciate it if you could help them to continue their care, by donating here:
Or texting to 70070: RLOD50, followed by either £1, £2, £5 or £10.