A Latin poem by Robert Matthew in 1647 contains a probable reference to cricket being played by pupils of Winchester College on nearby St. Catherine’s Hill. If authentic, this is the earliest known mention of cricket in Hampshire. But, with the sport having originated in Saxon or Norman times on the Weald, it must have reached Hampshire long before 1647. In 1680, lines written in an old Bible invite "All you that do delight in Cricket, come to Marden, pitch your wickets". Marden is in Sussex, north of Chichester, and interestingly close to Hambledon, which is just across the county boundary in Hampshire. Hampshire is used in a team name for the first time in August 1729, when a combined Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex XI played against Kent. The origin of the legendary Hambledon Club is lost. There remains no definite knowledge of Hambledon cricket before 1756, when its team had gained sufficient repute to be capable of attempting three matches against Dartford, itself a famous club since the 1720s if not earlier. Hambledon had presumably earned recognition as the best parish team in Hampshire, but no reports of their local matches have been found. We do not know when the Hambledon Club was founded and it seems likely that some kind of parish organisation was operating in 1756, although there may well have been a patron involved. The Sussex v Hampshire match in June 1766 is the earliest reference to Hampshire as an individual county team.
Hampshire County Cricket Club was founded on 12 August 1863 and played its initial first-class match versus Sussex at the Antelope Ground, Southampton on 7 and 8 July 1864, with Sussex winning by 10 wickets with James Lillywhite claiming ten wickets in the match for 80 runs, including taking his 100th wicket in first-class matches. The club was recognised as a first-class team from 1864 and was a contender for the "Champion County" title. This was not a permanent state of affairs, however. In 1886, Hampshire ceased to be a first-class team after years of difficult circumstances and poor results. It did play matches against Surrey and Sussex in 1886 but these matches are not recognised as first-class. Hampshire did not recover first-class status until the beginning of the 1895 County Championship season when it was readmitted to the now official County Championship. Hampshire is thus recognised as first-class from 1864 to 1885 and from 1895 to the present day. In Hampshire's return to the County Championship, the club finished the season in tenth place, some 16 points behind winners Surrey. Between 1900 and 1905, Hampshire were almost continuously struggling as their key officer-batsmen, Major Poore and Captain Wynyard were faced with either moving to South Africa or increased military duties at home from the Boer War. The club finished last or equal last in 1900, 1902, 1903, 1904 and 1905, failing to win a single game in the first of those seasons; however in 1901, with the temporary acquisition of Captain Greig from India and the qualification of Charlie Llewellyn, Hampshire won as many games as it lost.
The period from 1912 to 1926, though they never got near County Championship honours, was to be the most successful for a long time in Hampshire’s history: in those eleven seasons they won 98 and lost 96 of 292 games – only once otherwise until 1954 did they win more games than they lost. Mead, Brown, Kennedy and Newman were in the prime during this period, and they had the services of Lord Tennyson who captained the side from 1919–1932 as well as captaining the England team in three Tests, and the occasional aid of many other amateurs including the great C. B. Fry, who averaged an amazing 102 in seven games during 1912. In 1922, Hampshire won one of the most remarkable victories in County Championship history when they defeated Warwickshire by 155 runs after having followed on when dismissed for just 15. They scored 521 after being invited to bat again, set Warwickshire 314 to win and bowled them out for 158. Brown, with 172, and Livsey who scored 110* at number 10, were the heroes.
Hampshire had played at their Northlands Road headquarters in Southampton since 1885, as well as using Dean Park in Bournemouth, the United Services Recreation Ground in Portsmouth and May's Bounty in Basingstoke as regular outground venues. Northlands Road was a cramped location, surrounded by residential buildings which meant expanding the ground was largely impossible. Hampshire also wanted to encourage international cricket to the county, which would not have been possible with Northlands Road. Talk of a move from Newlands Road had begun as early as 1987, with Mark Nicholas discussing the idea with then Hampshire vice-chairman Bill Hughes in a Leeds restaurant. A site was eventually selected just outside Southampton in the village of West End, on a gently sloping open field nestled between the M27 motorway and Telegraph Woods. The ground was designed by architect Sir Michael Hopkins, whose design of the centrepiece pavilion with its tented roof was reminiscent of the Mound Stand at Lord's, which Hopkins also designed. The ground is built into the side of the gently sloping hill on which it is located, resulting in an amphitheatre bowl. The initial name for the ground was announced in 2000 as The Rose Bowl, in recognition of the club's rose and crown logo and the bowl-shaped nature of the ground.
The main pavilion holds the players facilities, as well as facilities for club members, such as the Derek Shackleton suite, the Richards Suite, the Greenidge Suite and The Hambledons (a suite named after the famous Hambledon Club). Located between the pavilion and the cricket academy building is the atrium restaurant. The cricket academy, which has six lanes of cricket nets is used by county squads, the Hampshire Academy, cricket clubs and schools. It is known to have some of the best facilities of its kind outside of Lord's and is available for hire by the general public. The two new stands include permanent catering facilities along the internal concourse of the ground floor, which were lacking prior to the redevelopment. Also located on the ground floor of the west stand is the club shop. Both of the new stands contain suites which can be used for conferences and exhibitions outside of match days. The suites are named after famous Hampshire players, such as Robin Smith, Shaun Udal and Shane Warne. Also part of the Rose Bowl complex is the Rose Bowl County Golf Club, a nine-hole golf course established in 1999 and set in the rolling countryside which surrounds large parts of the main stadium. The current clubhouse and golf shop are located directly behind the Arthur Holt Pavilion. As part of the grounds overall redevelopment, the golf course is being enlarged to an eighteen-hole course, with the new clubhouse being incorporated into the new hotel development at the Northern End of the main ground. It is hoped the course will be able to host major championship golf tournaments. Every November the Rose Bowl hosts one of the largest fireworks displays on the South CoastThe Public Address system will give live scores and updates of key developments during the match. There are facilities for wheelchair users including accessible toilets and steward controlled parking facilities. Guide Dogs are permitted within the Stadium. Should your dog require water then please ask your nearest Steward and they will do their best to assist. An Induction Loop is available. All Ageas Bowl Cricket Matches have commentary provide by BBC local radio.
Location : Botley Road, West End, Southampton, Hampshire S030 3XH
Transport: Southampton Parkway (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes: 8A, 9 and 9A stop nearby.
Capacity : 15,643
Opening Times: Daily 09:00 to 17:00
Tickets County/One Day : Adults £16.00; Concessions £11.00; Children £5.00
Tickets T20 Blast: Adults £21.00; Children £5.00
Tickets International: Adults £40.00; Children £15.00
Tel: 023 8047 2002