Ashley Giles raises prospect of Worcestershire leaving New Road as flood impact worsens

The former England spinner, who is now the chief executive at the county, admitted that the consequence of increasingly regular flooding at the ground might soon force Worcestershire to consider their options elsewhere


Ashley Giles has admitted that Worcestershire may be forced to leave their New Road home in the not-too-distant future, as the ground's regular flooding risks rendering the pitches "unusable".

The Worcestershire chief executive was speaking in the inaugural episode of Three Pears Chat, an in-house chat show launched by the county this month.

New Road has once again suffered from serious flooding this winter, with the groundstaff unable to get onto the square between October 22 and the middle of January. He warned that the club's first home game of the season – against Durham in the County Championship – could be in jeopardy, with the extremities of this winter meaning further flooding couldn't be ruled out between now and April.

"There were a number of total floods, some part flooding," said Giles. "But conditions are bad. We are very lucky with our grounds-team, and they work incredibly hard.

"Right now, it will remain a challenge to be ready for the first home game on April 19. And we know from history that we could still get another flood before the start of the season."

In order to get into the venue during the interim period, players and staff have been using a temporary bridge behind the Graeme Hick Pavilion, with the River Severn having burst its banks.

"There is nothing we can really do. We're on a floodplain, and that is the way it is," added Giles, who is a longtime resident of the area but is in his first winter as chief executive.




"I absolutely have to consider the long-term sustainability of the club, whether that be on the field or off the field, financial, as a ground. We know the way we're going, within 20 years, the square and pitches may be unusable because of the layers of dirt and silt and all sorts of other stuff that comes year-in-year-out, maybe four times per year.

"So, it is a concern. We know it's one of the most iconic grounds in the world, and absolutely everyone wants to stay there. But it has to be in my thoughts and it has to be in the thoughts of our membership. It's ultimately a members' club, but it is a real concern because each year it seems to be getting worse. I think the stats say in the last 20 years we've had as many high floods as they did in the previous 100. So, the situation is worsening, and we need to keep an eye on it."

Giles also added that it was unlikely that Worcestershire would bid to host a tier-one team as part of the domestic women's cricket restructure. He pointed to the club's already-stretched facilities as the principal reason: Worcestershire don't have an on-site indoor school and instead tend to use the facilities at Malvern College.

"We're unlikely to bid for one of those tier-one teams," he said. "That's not at all because we don't support women's cricket; at this point, it will just be more a funding and resource issue for us – ground, facilities, changing facilities, practice wickets.

"It would be really challenging for us. The next process for us is into tier two and tier three, and certainly we'll be into that. For us, we host the Central Sparks, which is the regional team, and we also have the women's Rapids. I'm very keen that we develop that team so that when we come to the next levels – tier two, for example – we're ready to go."

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Units 7-8, 35-37 High St, Barrow upon Soar, Loughborough, LE128PY

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