It appears that the Garon Park ground in Southend will continue to stage domestic county fixtures after all.
Essex have dropped the venue from their itinerary but now comes news that Unicorns, the representative side from recreational cricket, are expected to stage two Clydesdale Bank 40 games there in June. They will meet Sussex on June 3 and, two days later, will also host Kent in the competition at the ground.
Essex’s decision to end the Southend Cricket Festival after 105 years was initially contested by a task force who hoped that the county would backtrack on that decision but, having failed to win a sympathetic response, a committee was set up to explore other possibilities of ensuring that senior cricket continued on the ground.
Having played at the attractive seafront location of Southchurch Park until 2004, Essex decided to move a mile and a half inland to the somewhat soulless and newly-built Garon Park but the switch proved unsuccessful as it failed to attract the level of support the county required.
Essex did explore the possibility of a return to Southchurch although various logistics, including poor facilities and the current state of the playing area, made that a non-starter.
So, the decision was taken at the end of last season to allocate the Southend week of fixtures to Chelmsford leaving Colchester as the sole surviving Essex outground and a situation which is a far cry from the days when the county played on as many as nine different festival locations during one season.