THE OVAL: GROUND & SPECTATOR GUIDE

Built: 1845 

The home of Surrey CCC and one of the most iconic cricket venues in the world, The Oval stands beneath the famous gasworks in south London.

Part old brick pavilion, part swanky modern corporate hospitality, it has been the setting for dozens of famous cricketing moments down the years.

HISTORY

Built on former Kennington Common, the first match at The Oval was between London and Dartford in 1724. The ground then became a market garden, but using turf from Tooting, Surrey CCC established it as home in 1845 (although the ground is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall). The gasometer was built in 1853 (grade II-listed in 2003) and the pavilion in 1898.

The first ever Test in England was at The Oval. That was against Australia in 1880. The hosts won, but famously lost the Test two years later, which led to The Sporting Times proclaiming “the death of English cricket”, leading to the creation of the Ashes.

There have been so many memorable moments in the 101 Tests played there (the 100th was against South Africa in 2017).

Len Hutton made a then Test record 364 against Australia in 1938; and Don Bradman infamously made a duck in his final innings, denying him an average of 100 (he needed four) a decade later.

There have been 10 World Cup fixtures taking place at The Oval in the 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1999 tournaments. Pakistan’s Saqlain Mushtaq took a hat-trick against Zimbabwe in the latter. 

Throngs of fans watch England in action against South Africa at The Oval in 1929

FAMOUS MOMENT

In 2005 Kevin Pietersen scored his scintillating 158 as England drew the final Test and finally regained the Ashes after 18 years – this was voted No.1 Oval memory by Surrey supporters.

Kevin Pietersen is applauded from the field in 2005

HOW TO GET THERE

Address: Kennington Oval, London SE11 5SS

By car: Fans are advised to use public transport to travel to The Oval with parking options limited.

Surrey CCC have joined up with the ‘Good Going’ travel awareness campaign in Lambeth to promote sustainable forms of transport including walking, cycling, public transport, car sharing and low pollution vehicles.

By public transport: Oval is the closest Tube station, on the Northern line. Kennington, one stop up the line, is also an option. The nearest overground station is Vauxhall, which also has a Tube station, on the Victoria line.

GROUND RECORDS

Highest ODI total: 398 (for 5), New Zealand, v England 2015

Lowest ODI total: 103, England, v South Africa, 1999 World Cup

PLAYING CONDITIONS

The Oval has a reputation as a batsman's wonderland. Some of the highest List A totals of all time have been hit under the shadow of the famous gasworks and, though the firmness of the pitch does give super-quick fast bowlers some joy, it is a great place for those who like to go hard or go home with bat in hand.

WHERE TO EAT

24 The Oval

Has to be on this list because of its name, no? Cosy inside and with a plant-decked terrace out, lunch with wine comes to about £30. Hot-dinners.com describes its “modern British small and (shock) large plates – a neighbourhood vibe with non-pretentious, quality, ingredient-led cooking”. It is just under half a mile from the ground

24 Clapham Rd, SW9 0JG

Website
 

Kennington Tandoori

A curry restaurant popular with Westminster’s parliamentarians – check out the pictures of prime ministers who have dined there in the window. Rumoured to be the venue of David Cameron’s last supper before he vacated No.10. They do a ‘cricketers special’ menu at £30 per head

313 Kennington Rd SE11 4QE

Website

 

Adulis Restaurant

Eritrean cuisine which has earned lots of excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. A good range of vegetarian and non-veggie options. The tsebhi is recommended. It is a stew (bit not the Alec or Micky type)

44-46 Brixton Rd, SW9 6BT

Website


Sally Whyte

Affordable lunches a Will Jacks hit away from the ground.

Imaginative salads, quiches and sandwiches. A nice homespun feel to the place with friendly staff. Lunch for about £7/8.

353 Kennington Rd, SE11 4QE

Website


Madeira Star Café

Obliging staff offer a varied menu at competitive prices. Perfect to pop out of The Oval to in the interval and take back into the ground – a sarnie for £4, or chicken and pasta for £6.

337/339 Kennington Rd, SE11 4QE

WHAT TO DO NEARBY

Imperial War Museum

This classic venue takes in all conflicts since World War One, using documents, photos, archive footage, equipment and set reconstructions. It is extremely popular with youngsters, and admission is free.

Lambeth Road, SE1 6HZ

Website 


Vauxhall City Farm

A small slice of rural life in the heart of the urban jungle. It is run by volunteers, and there are more than 100 animals to look out for, including alpacas and Shetland ponies. Entry is by donation.

165 Tyers St, Lambeth, London SE11 5HS

Website 


The South Bank walk

A tremendous walk along the Thames, starting with Big Ben and Parliament (the tour inside is fantastic but you need to book), then going past the National Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall. And it’s free!

Start at Westminster Bridge (SE1 7UT)

Website

WHERE TO DRINK

The Beehive

Usually bustling after a day’s play. Has a beer garden, and lots of live sport being shown on multiple screens. Bar staff who work speedily

51 Durham Street

Website


Fentiman Arms

Just around the corner from The Oval, it is described as ‘a busy backstreet Victorian boozer’; it has a homely feel, and offers decent beer and quirky snacks

64 Fentiman Rd

Website


The Brown Derby

Based on Los Angeles diners of the 1920s, it is quirky, with an unusual line in taxidermy. It offers good ale, decent food and live music every Thursday

336 Kennington Park Rd

Website

 

The White Bear Pub

It is attached to a fringe theatre. Staff are friendly. Food and drink is good. They keep bees in the back garden. Opening at 10am on World Cup days

138 Kennington Park Rd

Website

 

The Prince of Wales

A bit off the beaten track but worth a visit to take in the delightfully secluded Cleaver Square. Good beer and decent pub food. Has a community feel

48 Cleaver Square, Kennington

Website

WHAT TO DO NEARBY

The Tate Modern

Head east down the river and take in the superb Tate Modern. The ‘Van Gogh and Britain’ exhibition is on until August 11. The building is as impressive as the art.

Bankside, SE1 9TG

Website

 

Shakespeare’s Globe

Standing to watch a play, even when it rains and you get soaked, should be on everybody’s ‘to do’ list. This season’s plays include Henry IV Parts I and 2, and Henry V.  

21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT

Website

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW...

The first FA Cup final was staged at The Oval in 1872: Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers. It was then the venue for every final between 1874–1892. During World War Two the ground was set up as a prison camp but the intended prisoners, Axis Powers parachutists, never arrived as anticipated. 

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