Essex to play at Colchester but not Southend
ESSEX will continue to play at Colchester’s Castle Park next summer, but will not be returning to Southend in 2012.
At a meeting of the Essex County Cricket Club General Committee last night it was decided that the Southend Cricket Festival will not take place in 2012, and that the five days of cricket including an LV= County Championship and a Clydesdale Bank 40 match will be staged at The Ford County Ground, probably in August.
The committee considered very robust and persuasive arguments in favour of continuing, but decided on balance that in the interest of its members the club would be better served by staging the matches at Chelmsford next year.
Chief executive David East said: “It is very sad that after 105 Years of first-class cricket in Southend that we will not be returning in 2012. The door has certainly not been closed on future festival cricket in the south of the county, but at this time the club committee felt that our focus should be at Chelmsford.”
East continued: “There is a huge amount of work ongoing at Garon Park, particularly with the development of our centre of excellence and the proposed new community facilities.
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“Our Essex women’s and girls programme goes from strength to strength, and with our other junior county matches and second XI cricket we have over 40 match days at the venue.
“We look forward to continuing our efforts in this area to ensure that we maintain a significant community and developmental presence in the region and that we are able retain an Essex cricketing focus in this important part of the county.
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“We remain fully supportive of the project to improve and grow the community facilities at Garon Park, and the fulfilment of these plans may open the door for future first-class cricket at the ground.”
Club chairman Nigel Hilliard added: “Over the last three weeks we have conducted an in-depth review of the background and status of our festivals and have received considerable feedback from our members and other stakeholders. These were fully taken into account before making this decision, and as part of this review the club agreed to continue with its festival week at Castle Park in Colchester for 2012.”
Southend festival chairman Mike Smith said: “This is a sad day for many cricket lovers in South Essex and beyond. It is now critical that we deal with all the issues, including development of the cricket community centre at Garon Park, so that we are in a position to attract first-class cricket back to Southend.”