Published: 26th July, 2017
Earlier this year, cricketing periodical The Nightwatchman published a special edition in honour of The Oval impending 100th Test, which is due to start in 24 hours time.
The issue is still available to buy for just £10, but over the last ten days the club have been publishing short extracts from some of its finest articles, where some of the world’s finest cricket journalists have unburdened their soul on what makes our ground such a wonderful and special place.
Today’s final extract comes from Sir John Major, Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997 and subsequently President of Surrey CCC in 2000 and 2001. Having first come to the ground as a south London schoolboy during the 1950s, Sir John has been – and continues to be – a regular face throughout the summer.
Man and Boy
Every cricket ground has its own charm – from the majesty of Lord’s, to the rudimentary facilities of the village green. But, since I was a child, The Oval has been my spiritual home. If Lord’s is the Cathedral of cricket, then The Oval is the High Altar.
It is now over 60 years since I first watched cricket at The Oval. Since then, it has been a constant part of my life. Whilst there, I have seen – and shared in – on-field delight, disappointment, even pathos, as well as off-field excitement, and yes – very occasionally – boredom.
In good times and bad, The Oval has been a sanctuary for me. Watching cricket – most of all at The Oval – is totally absorbing, and events on the field have always been able to wipe my mind of all other issues. Sometimes, the whole world has shrunk down to the contest in front of me and, for a while, nothing else has mattered.
The Oval also has a heart. When my son-in-law, Luke, was very ill, it was as welcoming to him as a warm blanket. After I had lost a General Election, it offered solace and comfort. The cricket I have enjoyed there for over 60 years has left me with a treasure trove of imperishable memories.