ECB demands rule out Whitgift cricket festival for 2014

Hopes that county cricket would return to Croydon in 2014 after a three-year hiatus will be dashed tonight when the England and Wales Cricket Board publishes its fixtures list for next summer. Surrey will not be listed as playing any games at Whitgift School next summer.

Whitgift schoolboy and Surrey's Dominic Sibley celebrates his 200  against Yorkshire, making him the youngest player to hit a double century in the County Championship

Whitgift schoolboy Dominic Sibley celebrates his 200 for Surrey against Yorkshire, making him the youngest player to hit a double century in the County Championship

The game’s powers-that-be frustrated Surrey’s work with the school to stage county fixtures in South Croydon again, through demands that key limited overs games should be staged under floodlights for the benefit of television, something impossible to deliver on the playing field on Nottingham Road.

It means that promising Surrey players such as teenaged double-centurion Dom Sibley, Jason Roy, now an established figure in the county side’s batting order, and spinner Freddie van den Burgh will have to wait at least another year before they will be able to play for their county on their old school’s fields.

“I visited the headmaster during the summer to investigate opportunities,” Richard Gould, the chief executive at Surrey County Cricket Club told Inside Croydon.

“We had hoped to take the Somerset 50L game to Whitgift because this is the day after the fifth Test versus India and therefore would have been a good day to take a game away from the Kia Oval.

“However we were informed by ECB that this game has to be under floodlights because it is the final round of games before the quarter finals (and so all teams will be playing at the same time), and may well be televised, and we do not have the in-place infrastructure to support this.  We are still considering other alternatives for 2014,” the Surrey official said.

“We are of course very grateful for all the support received by the club from Whitgift and Croydon, and it was great to see Whitgift pupil Dominic Sibley perform so well for Surrey earlier this year,” Gould said.

Surrey’s Croydon cricket festival, first staged at Whitgift in 2000, was hugely popular with Surrey members and the local public, who provided a packed ground for the week of County Championship and televised one-day games in the picturesque setting. The spin-offs for local businesses were considerable, too, with the pubs and restaurants enjoying the extra trade before spectators headed home.

In the county club’s 160-year history, it has only played more often at two grounds other than Whitgift: Guildford and The Oval itself.

But Surrey have not returned to Croydon since 2011, ostensibly at first because of issues over building works going on within the private school.

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