So, the weather gods weren’t exactly smiling, but that didn’t dampen spirits as the Rose Bowl hosted Test Match cricket for the first time in its history.
We’re sure a big sigh of relief went up when play finally got under way yesterday because this was undoubtedly an historic day for Hampshire cricket.
Despite the damp start, the Rose Bowl was able to set down the first few opening paragraphs of a bright new chapter – and we hope that this story can run and run.
Cricket belongs in Hampshire.
As a county, we have a rich and proud association with this sport.
The Rose Bowl’s first ever Test Match reinforces that and sees those at the very top of their game come tantalisingly close to the cradle of cricket, Hambledon.
Let’s not forget that it was there on Broadhalfpenny Down where one of the oldest known cricket clubs in the country played. And of course it is there where the famous Bat and Ball Inn still stands.
Since those earliest days of cricket, much has changed.
In recent years fans will have been forgiven for thinking they’ve seen more of a revolution than a mere revamp, especially with the introduction of Twenty20 cricket and the change from traditional whites, to pyjama-style brights.
But while purists won’t always have been happy – and the crowds at the Rose Bowl could have done with being a little busier – we’re pleased that Test Match cricket will now be played just up the road.
Hampshire chairman, Rod Bransgrove, hopes his venue can become one of the greats, acting as a worthy rival for the traditional Test homes such as Lord’s and Old Trafford.
It is to be hoped that England vs Sri Lanka is only the start and that fans take the Rose Bowl to their hearts in the same way as they have done those other venues.
While rain clouds might have threatened to spoil the party yesterday, it was good to see play getting under way.
We hope that the sun peeps out from behind those clouds for the remainder of the match – and that it shines on Hampshire cricket for years to come.