The Kia Oval in Kennington, south London is home to Surrey County Cricket Club – formed in 1845 and one of the most historic sports clubs in the UK. It has also staged International cricket there since 1880 and was the ground where the Ashes were born in 1882.
Since then, every good cricketer in the game has played in the shadow of the well-known gas-holders which overlook the ground. The Club first won the County Championship in 1890 and in a golden era from 1952 to 1958 took the title an unprecedented seven consecutive times.
Ever Since we have been introduced to One Day and Twenty20 cricket, Surrey have also had a lot of success in the limited overs game.
Formed in 1845 at the local Horns Tavern, great players include Sir Jack Hobbs, Jim Laker, Peter May, Sir Alec Bedser, Alec Stewart, Graham Thorpe and Mark Butcher.
In the twentieth century, 1938 saw Sir Len Hutton achieve the highest ever recorded Test Match score by an Englishman at The Oval before, ten years on, Sir Donald Bradman, the great Australian and arguably the best ever cricketer, played his final innings at the ground, just failing to score the four runs he required for a Test Match average of 100.
Later the ground became a home from home for the all-conquering West Indies teams of the 1970s and 1980s, with Michael Holding taking 8/92 in 1976 and Sir Vivian Richards hitting 291 in the same match.
In more recent times The Oval hosted the finale of the 2005 Ashes – for many the greatest series ever played – and once again staged England Ashes victories in 2009 and 2013.
Away from cricket, some say The Oval is where English team sport was founded.
In 1870 the ground hosted the first ever International football match in England – between England and Scotland – and two years later, in 1872, the first ever FA Cup Final between Wanderers and Engineers, won 1-0 by the Wanderers. The Engineers gained a measure of revenge in 2012 when the ground re-staged the match, winning 7-1.
The same year, 1872, the ground was the venue for the first ever Rugby Union fixture to be played in England, between England and Scotland.
The facilities are very impressive with a new 6,300 capacity stand development completing the ground modernisation, replacing the Peter May and Lock Stand and raising capacity to 25,300.