Cricket probably reached Gloucestershire by the end of the 17th century. It is known that the related sport of "Stow-Ball" aka "Stob-Ball" was played in the county during the 16th century. In this game, the bat was called a "stave". A game in Gloucester on 22 September 1729 is the earliest definite reference to cricket in the county. From then until the founding of the county club, very little has been found outside parish cricket. In the early 1840s, Dr Henry Grace and his brother-in-law Alfred Pocock founded the Mangotsfield Cricket Club which merged in 1846 with the West Gloucestershire Cricket Club, whose name was adopted until 1867, after which it became the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club. Grace hoped that Gloucestershire would join the first-class county clubs but the situation was complicated in 1863 by the formation of a rival club called the Cheltenham and Gloucestershire Cricket Club. Dr Grace's club played Gloucestershire's initial first-class match versus Surrey at Durdham Down in Bristol on 2, 3 & 4 June 1870. Gloucestershire joined the (unofficial) County Championship at this time but the existence of the Cheltenham club seems to have forestalled the installation of its "constitutional trappings". The Cheltenham club was wound up in March 1871 and its chief officials accepted positions in the hierarchy of Gloucestershire. So, although the exact details and dates of the county club's foundation are uncertain, it has always been assumed that the year was 1870 and the club celebrated its centenary in 1970. What is certain is that Dr Grace was able to form the county club because of its playing strength, especially his three sons WG, EM and Fred.
The early history of Gloucestershire is dominated by the Grace family, most notably W G Grace, who was the club's original captain and held that post until his departure for London in 1899. His brother E M Grace, although still an active player, was the original club secretary. With the Grace brothers and Billy Midwinter in their team, Gloucestershire won three Champion County titles in the 1870s. Since then Gloucestershire's fortunes have been mixed and they have never won the official County Championship. They struggled in the pre-war years of the County Championship because their best batsmen, apart from Gilbert Jessop and briefly Charlie Townsend, were very rarely available. The bowling, except when Townsend did sensational things on sticky wickets in late 1895 and late 1898, was very weak until George Dennett emerged – then it had the fault of depending far too much on him. Wally Hammond, who still holds many of the county's batting records formed part of an occasionally strong inter-war team, although the highest championship finish during this period was second in 1930 and 1931, when Charlie Parker and Tom Goddard formed a devastating spin attack. Outstanding players since the war include Tom Graveney, "Jack" Russell and overseas players Mike Procter, Zaheer Abbas and Courtney Walsh. Gloucestershire established a dynasty in one-day cricket in the late 1990s and early 2000s winning several titles under the captaincy of Mark Alleyne and coaching of John Bracewell. The club operated on a small budget and was famed as a team greater than the sum of its parts boasting few international stars.
The Bristol County Ground (also known as Nevil Road) is home to Gloucestershire County Cricket Club. Initially known as Ashley Down Ground, it was bought in 1889 by W. G. Grace and has been home to Gloucestershire ever since. It was sold to local confectionery firm J. S. Fry & Sons and renamed Fry's Ground. The club bought the ground back in 1933 and it reverted to its original name. It was sold again in 1976, this time to Royal & Sun Alliance who renamed the ground the Phoenix County Ground for eight years before changing to The Royal & Sun Alliance County Ground until the ground was again bought by the club and took it up its current title. The ground hosts One Day Internationals, usually one per year, with the addition of temporary seating to double the ground's capacity. It has been awarded the following International Match Programme for 2016-2018: 2016 England v Sri Lanka ODI, 2017 England v West Indies ODI, 2018 England v India ODI. The Club has permission to install permanent floodlights for the beginning of the 2016 season. The ground has long boundaries in comparison to most county cricket clubs. The former concrete roof over the public terraces, which has now been demolished, was formed from eight hyperbolic-paraboloid umbrellas each approximately 30 ft square, designed by T.H.B. Burrough in 1960.
The Public Address system will give live scores and updates of key developments during the match. Guide dogs are permitted within the ground. Should your dog require water then the staff at any food service outlet will be willing to help. The new Pavilion is designed for full accessibility to all areas. Wheelchair access is available at both entrances and the open nature of the ground means that wheelchairs can be readily accommodated. For most matches, ball by ball commentary is provided by BBC Local Radio which can be accessed through the internet from the BBC website. They have a limited number of disabled car parking spaces available.
Location : Bristol County Ground, Nevil Road, Bristol BS7 9EJ
Transport: Bristol Temple Meads or Bristol Parkway (National Rail) then bus/taxi. Bus Routes: 17/17A, 70/71, 72, 73, 75, 76 and 78/79 stop nearby.
Capacity : 8,000; 17,500 for internationals
Opening Times: Daily 09:00 to 17:00
Tickets County/One Day : Adults £15.00; Children £3.00
Tickets T20 Blast: Adults £20.00; Children £3.00
Tickets Womens International : Adults £10.00; Children £1.00
Tickets International : Adults £45.00 to £65.00; Children £15.00 to £25.00
Tel: 0117 910 8000
The Cheltenham College school grounds host Gloucestershire annually in Cheltenham week, a tradition instituted by James Lillywhite, the cricket coach at the College in the 1870's. The ground was soon after "graced" with a triple century (318*) by the redoubtable WG, against Yorkshire in 1876. The following year Grace took 17 wickets for 89 runs here against Nottinghamshire. The ground has a distinct slope, and is attractively set, overlooked by the late vistorian buildings of the College, and St. Luke's Church. The ground is surrounded by a canvas fence, and many marquees during the Festival. Zaheer Abbas scored 205* and 108* v Sussex here in 1977, one of four occasions he made a double century and century without being dismissed. Cheltenham also saw the unusual hat-trick of lbw dismissals by MJ Procter against Yorkshire in 1979, and the even more unusual (in fact unique) hat-trick of stumpings by WH Brain off CL Townsend's bowling in 1893. One of the great allround feats was performed here by Wally Hammond, who set the world record of ten catches by a fielder, as well as scoring a century in each innings against Surrey in 1928. Strangely there are three other instances of fielders taking eight catches in a match at Cheltenham, making four out of a total of only 12 instances in all first-class cricket.
In days of old the ground was populated by colonels and clergymen. Although times have changed, it retains much of its appeal. As David Hopps wrote in The Guardian: "Cheltenham isn't snooty any longer, even if you can still spy the straw hats and tropical suits reminiscent of erstwhile days when the wearers were home on leave from the colonies. The festival is far more egilatarian. Those long flowery dresses of officers' wives have given way to bare midriffs of nubile wine-bar girls not long out of one of the local young ladies' colleges." The Public Address system will give live scores and updates of key developments during the match. Guide dogs are permitted within the ground. Should your dog require water then the staff at any food service outlet will be willing to help. Should any assistance be required to reach your seat or any facility, please contact the nearest steward who will make arrangements to provide this. Visually impaired spectators at Essex matches can listen to the match day commentary supplied by the BBC. There is disabled parking available and fully accessible toilets reserved for disabled use. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : College Sports Ground, Thirlestaine Road, Cheltenham GL53 7AB
Transport: Cheltenham Spa (National Rail) then bus (L) or 15 minutes walk. Bus Routes: F, L, Q, RC1 and Y stop close by.
Capacity : 4,000
Opening Times: Daily 09:00 to 17:00
Tickets Cheltenham Festival : 12 day pass £120; Sunday Pass (both games) £30
Tel: 01242 851092