Bransgrove delights in another belter at the Bowl

England celebrate victory over South Africa at the Ageas Bowl
England celebrate victory over South Africa at the Ageas Bowl
Jonny Bairstow, right, thanks skipper Eoin Morgan. Picture: Neil Marshall

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Rod Bransgrove was beaming with pride after another wonderful international fixture at the Ageas Bowl.

And Hampshire’s chairman revealed he has not given up on his dream of hosting an Ashes test at the south-coast venue.

Bransgrove, who has been the driving force behind the development, watched England clinch a thrilling victory over South Africa on Saturday.

Along with another sizeable crowd, he witnessed a dramatic final over that saw England squeeze home by just two runs.

The ground was buzzing in the wake of the fixture, which gave the hosts an insurmountable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

And Bransgrove reiterated his belief there is no better place to watch cricket in the country.

He said: ‘It was another fantastic occasion and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved and continue to achieve.

‘We have developed a tremendous team with a real sense of positivity resounding around the place.

‘I feel we have built something worth having with people worth having and it is a very stimulating place to be.

‘For me, this is the finest cricket facility in the country – without denigrating the history and tradition of Lords.

‘At the end of the day, as a cricket watching facility, I don’t think there is anywhere better in the country.

‘It is probably the best in the world right now.

‘There are still a few things I would like to change and develop further but, on the whole, this is a great place to be.

‘And we have the potential to improve the facilities still further in the next few years.’

The ground opened in 2001 but it was the rejection of Test match status in 2009 that led to Bransgrove initiating a massive redevelopment plan.

As a result, that decision was overhauled and England played their first Test at the ground against Sri Lanka in 2011. However, there remains one major event missing from the Ageas Bowl’s CV.

Bransgrove said: ‘I’m very keen to see us get awarded an Ashes test match in 2023.

‘For me, that would be the final validation of the stadium and I have my fingers crossed it will happen.

‘International cricket is huge and we have almost trained ourselves to expect it now.

‘I want to see the best players in the world performing at one of the greatest venues.

‘We are also thinking carefully about the new t20 tournament – set to be launched in this county in the next couple of years.’

Meanwhile, Bransgrove reckons the family-orientated approach is another big attraction for fans.

‘We are way ahead of the market in this respect,’ he added.

‘We put on lots of things for kids to do.

‘It is a great day out for everyone and people are free to wander around the ground.

‘They can get a beer or a burger and still be able to watch the cricket.’

England return to the Ageas Bowl for a t20 international with South Africa on Wednesday, June 21 (6.30pm).