As international cricket comes to Dharamsala, a ground nestled among the northern Indian mountains close to the home of the Dalai Lama, our writers recall their memories of the most stunning grounds around the world
It is all a matter of perspective, writes Mike Selvey. Sit in the Lord’s pavilion and look out and see nothing too special. But go to the Nursery end and look towards the pavilion and you see something special. Sit with your back to the river at Worcester and it is a mundane view: from the other side it is magnificent.
Park yourself in one part of the ground in Queenstown, where England will play next month, and the view is unremarkable: from the other end, with the Remarkables as a backdrop, it is just that. From some angles, Newlands in Cape Town is hideous, with its towering stands and brewery close by. But then there is the famous view with Table Mountain. Perspective, you see.
Here’s a selection of the most beautiful grounds our writers have visited, starting with Dharamsala, where Andy Wilson will be covering the first international cricket match to be held in the mountain outpost.
HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala, India. A cricket ground where a bowler can accurately be described as running in from the Himalayas end is clearly an unusual addition to the international circuit. The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association advertise their new stadium as “the most attractive ground in India”, and that is not an idle boast. At an elevation of 4,110 feet, it will this weekend become the highest international ground in the world, and it is overlooked by the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas that includes snow-capped peaks three times higher. The air is crisp, Vultures and Eagles soar nearby, and the Dalai Lama has established his Tibetan Government in Exile just up the hill in Mcleodganj. Worcester it isn’t. Andy Wilson
Queenstown Event Centre, New Zealand. Stunning backdrop of the Remarkables, although offset by the airport immediately beyond the perimeter of the ground. Even that has its appeal though. Mike Selvey
Pukekura Park is the most beautiful cricket ground I have seen. I watched an England XI play a Shell XI there in February, 1988. The ground is surrounded by exotic plants from the botanical garden, there is a lake and the whole idyll is presided over by an almost conical volcano. Absolutely stunning. Paul Weaver
Recreation Ground, Antigua. Beauty in a different form. Ramshackle, but in its pomp, the most vibrant cricket ground in the world. Mike Selvey
Lynton & Lynmouth CC, Devon. In the Valley of the Rocks in North Devon overlooked by two giant tors with the sea beyond. But they don’t play first class cricket there and never will. The boundaries are too short, the thatched pavilion has little room for players let alone the support staff and it is rather more inaccessible than Southampton. But it’s beautiful. I have not played much – correction -any high standard cricket there. But I have represented the Fleet St Wanderers at Lynton. Pukekura Park, oddly, has echoes of Lynton. Vic Marks
Wormsley, Buckinghamshire – Paul Getty’s own ground, created on his estate. It took an American to create something quintessentially English. Mike Selvey
Pallekele Stadium, Kandy, Sri Lanka. I was there in the 2011 World Cup, watching New Zealand beat Pakistan. It’s up in the hills outside Kandy, which is a beautiful city itself. It’s tea plantation country, and the stadium is surrounded by gentle hills covered in lush green trees, which run away as far as the horizon. The ground itself has grass banks on either side, for the spectators to sprawl on. Andy Bull
Arnos Vale, St Vincent. So close to the Caribbean sea that Chris Gayle could carry the ball into it. Stunning view down the Grenadines. Mike Selvey
The Parks, Oxford. Far from exotic, and probably as far from fashionable as it’s possible to get, the Parks is still a beautiful place to watch cricket. Set in one of Oxford’s few municipal open spaces, the cricket ground is an emblem of inclusivity in a city of high windows, introduced against the will of the colleges in the century to provide public sporting space. Not only is it picturesque in that slightly twee north Oxford way, it is also still the only free first class ground in the country. Simply turn up, sit down by the boundary rope and try – it is best if you can – to ignore the students. Barney Ronay
Asgiriya, Kandy, Sri Lanka. For sheer colour, augmented, on the neighbouring hillside by the saffron robes of monks from the nearby monastery. Mike Selvey
Beausejour Stadium, St Lucia. I was there in 2009, watching the World Twenty20. Up in the north of the island, the only way to get to it is down a long dirt track past a bunch of factories and canneries. But the ground itself is in the dip in the earth, overlooked by two mountains. There’s a rum shack perched half way up one of them, and canny locals congregate there to watch the match for free. The stands are bright and colourful, all painted columns and wooden seats. Andy Bull
New Road, Worcester. Not terribly original, I know, but as someone who had spent his formative years (and a fair proportion of the years since) watching cricket at Old Trafford, a first visit to Worcester for a Benson and Hedges Cup quarter final in May 1995 was a revelation. The walk through town and across the river to the ground, the trees, the Cathedral, the lovely old white buildings – some of which survive, thank goodness. It’s blissful county cricket.