The old Kensington Oval, Barbados – RIP

The Kensington Oval in Barbados is one of the world’s famous cricket grounds and every cricketer wants to play test cricket there.

Many a historic match took place on the Mecca as it was called. For many years I organised a group of 10 to 20 friends when England, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, India or South Africa were playing against the West Indies. The ladies would bring the food and the men the drink. We went to the Hall & Griffith stand and later to the Mitchie Hewitt stand. A good time was had by all.

The Greenidge & Haynes Stand was the one I went to “after” work when  a test match got interesting. One evening I watched Michael Holding bowl a few VERY fast overs to the MCC team with Geoffrey Boycott as opener. Boycott hardly saw the ball especially the one that removed his center stump and sent it to the wicket keeper.

Another evening in 1999 I watched Brian Lara and Courtney Walsh fighting to win a test match against Australia. Lara made 153 n/o in that innings. The tension in the ground was unbearable, especially when Walsh was facing as he was not known as a batsman. When Lara hit the winning run there was need for serious drinks to calm the nerves.

When the World Cup tickets went on sale I was told by the ICC that I could not buy 10 tickets nor could I book specific seats. I could only purchase a maximum of 2 and they will tell me where to sit. Additionally we could not bring in noise makers, flags, food or drink. The nut and snow cone vendors would not be allowed in. This attitude killed the game for many and the matches across the Caribbean were lacking the atmosphere that the West Indies were famous for.

I have to thank my mother for suggesting that I take these pictures before they destroyed Kensington Oval.

What they built has no history or atmosphere and is a white elephant.

You can click on the thumbnail image to see a larger image with captions.

For the history of the Kensington Oval click here.

Response to “The old Kensington Oval, Barbados – RIP”

  1. Iain Edghill

    Great article about Kensington Oval, but I think that you are mistaken about that memorable spell by Michael Holding. If I am not mistaken, and the unofficial walking encyclopaedia of cricket, Ambassador Michael King, can most certainly correct me, it was day 2 at the start of play, not in the evening, and Holding bowled the first over from the northern end, uprooting Boycott’s stump with the last ball, which was described as “simply unplayable.” That over was captured for posterity on YouTube: Michael Holding to Geoff Boycott, 1981. I believe that Holding’s was the 2nd over. And it is quite evident from watching the video of Boycott walking back to the pavilion that the shadow indicates that the sun was almost directly overhead, around noon.

    For the MCC vs Barbados match in 1959, if my memory serves, that the MCC captain Peter May set Barbados 50-odd runs to win in fading light, with about 25 minutes left in the match. Well, the Barbados openers, Cammie Smith and Conrad Hunte, put England’s premier bowlers, Trueman and Statham, to the sword and knocked off the runs in short order. Magnificent batting.

    But for me, the thrill of a lifetime was to witness Barbados playing England in the late 50’s at Kensington. It was late evening and Charlie Griffith, bowling from the southern end, dismissed one of the England openers [I think it was Geoff Pullar] and in walked Mike [M.J.K.] Smith, took guard, took his stance. Sir Charles ran in and bowled one of his specialty deliveries, a very fast yorker. Smith didn’t stand a chance – he couldn’t even get his bat down in time – and looked back to see his stumps splayed all over the place. A golden duck for England’s star batsman. Kensington erupted, including this writer. Memorable! The atmosphere was electric. I will never forget it.

    All the foregoing subject to confirmation by Michael King!

    Full disclosure: I much preferred the ‘old’ Kensington to the ‘new’ Kensington!

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