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Worcestershire's Steve Rhodes to open new Herefordshire Cricket Centre
THE county’s new cricket centre will reverse the sport’s decline in Hereford over the last 20 years.
That’s the verdict from Herefordshire Cricket’s chairman Gary King, ahead of next week’s opening.
King said: “We are looking to bring cricket back to the centre of the community in Hereford.
“There are some excellent clubs on the edge of the city but, hopefully, we will reclaim the sport in Hereford.
“Cricket grounds, team and players have been lost in Hereford and, hopefully, this will reverse the trend of 20 years’ decline of cricket in the city.
“Cricket is for everybody whether you’re male or female, six or 60, able-bodied or disabled.”
ECB representative Laura Newton will bowl the first ball to ex-England and Worcestershire wicketkeeper Steve Rhodes (pictured right) at 2.30pm on Monday to open the new Herefordshire Cricket Centre.
The new centre is based at Pentland Gardens at the former Bulmers ground.
Herefordshire Cricket have signed a 25-year lease on the ground and the cricket office will be relocating from Leominster’s Bridge Street.
Head coach Edward Price said: “It’s a serious step forward for Herefordshire Cricket to have a ground, facilities and offices of our own.
“It’s something that cricket in Herefordshire has wanted for a long time.
“It’s a £100,000 investment into cricket in Herefordshire.”
Eric Lane told Price about the ground two years ago.
“I, like a lot of other people, thought the old Bulmers ground had been built on,” said Price.
“They built houses on the football pitch and tennis courts but left a patch of land.
“They took the old wooden pavilion down and then built a building with no windows.”
Herefordshire Cricket secured £71,625 funding from the England and Wales Cricket Board, in partnership with Sport England, towards the cost of rebuilding the pavilion.
Price said: “The facility gives us a chance to offer cricket in Herefordshire and cricket for all.
“It’s a cricket centre in Hereford running in conjunction with Whitecross School.
“In term time, the facility will be used by the school and, out of term, it will be used by us.
“The non-turf pitch has been laid and the vision is to have a three-lane net.
“It’s going to take a bit of time to bring it all together.
“It will also take the load off the clubs who, at the moment, host all the junior matches.
“We will still take the under-16 and under-17 games to the lovely grounds around the county.
“But this is a real bonus for Herefordshire Cricket because we will now be able to play a high percentage of our age group county games on our own ground.”
Eric Lane will be presented with the Rob Staite Award at 5.30pm on Monday for his services to cricket.