Glamorgan head for their annual visit to Swansea this week with festival organisers warning about the uncertain future of first-class cricket at the ground where Sir Garfield Sobers hit his six sixes in 1968.
The St Helen’s Balconiers, who have ensured Swansea has continued to have county cricket ever since Glamorgan established its headquarters at Sophia Gardens more than two decades ago, are concerned about preserving county cricket in west Wales.
Balconiers chairman and Glamorgan committeeman John Williams is encouraging cricket fans to turn up in considerable numbers for the cricket festival involving an LV County Championship clash with Northamptonshire and a Clydesdale Bank 40 game against Nottinghamshire.
The Balconiers have secured a three-year deal with Swansea City Council and Glamorgan to host matches and are hoping a Twenty20 match could be held in Swansea next year. But the long-term future of Glamorgan playing at St Helen’s still hangs very much in the balance.
“It is so important the Swansea and west Wales cricket fans should attend St Helen’s this week in their thousands in order to secure first-class cricket for a region that has been starved of county cricket in recent times,” said Williams.
“The Balconiers have been fortunate to receive excellent sponsorship and hospitality sales from financial institutions, local businesses and individuals across the region.
“As a result we have been able to raise a substantial sum of money as a financial inducement for Glamorgan to continue playing at St Helen’s, probably the most famous of all out-grounds in the UK.
“West Wales has always been a thriving nursery for Glamorgan, ever since the days of Dai and Emrys Davies and before. Glamorgan’s most famous cricketers were born here: Don Shepherd, Alan and Eifion Jones, Tony Lewis, Jeff and Simon Jones and Robert Croft.
“It is therefore essential west Wales young cricketers of the future continue to have the opportunity to see their heroes play first-class cricket on their doorstep.”
Added Williams: “The survival of St Helen’s as a first-class cricket ground is essential to the future development of young cricketers within the west Wales region.
“We all must be mindful of the fact that if we don’t make the effort to support cricket at this famous ground, the gates could be shut for ever and we would end up in the same way as the Mumbles Train – once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. It would then be too late to make a protest.”