WG’s legacy, Sachin’s longevity: Richard Gibson

Gloucestershire are backing a scheme to re-open a disused local railway station in conjunction with their re-application for planning permission to redevelop their Nevil Road ground in Bristol.

The Ashley Hill station, serving the community of Ashley Down, was last an active stop on the Bristol and South Wales Union line in 1964, and would connect to the city’s major stations Parkway and Temple Meads.

It has historical cricket significance too as fans from far and wide used to disembark from trains during the Victorian era to pay homage to WG Grace, who made his first-class bow for Gloucestershire a year after its 1864 opening.

“It would be a major coup for our cricket facility here and would provide a major improvement to the local community,” said Gloucestershire chief executive Tom Richardson.

“People used to use the train just to come and watch WG practise, and in terms of its use it would be the equivalent of St John’s Wood tube station to Lord’s – the walk takes something like four minutes.”

The South-West county are on the verge of re-submitting development plans to the city council and spent two days of consultation with local residents in mid-March, which revealed new sketches of the residential development they hope will fund their multi-million pound makeover of their traditional base.

Their original application was rejected following concerns at the height of the flats but the architects have reduced the number of storeys from seven to six, and retained all 147 homes – the number required to provide the required funding for Gloucestershire’s scheme – by widening one side of the proposed construction.

Gloucestershire have already lost their one-day international against New Zealand in 2013, after the delay in planning meant they could no longer meet the deadlines for demands placed on them by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The Category B ground is required to have a minimum of 5,000 permanent seats. They intend to construct 7,500 and upgrade various other facilities to host future internationals, including a new world-class press box, which will double up as a corporate facility for hire out of season, a separate changing room for third and fourth officials, and permanent TV and radio studios.

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It said something for Sachin Tendulkar’s cricketing longevity that on the day he finally churned out his 100th hundred for India, there were two umpires employed in ODIs across the globe that made their international debuts after the ‘Little Master’.

Paul Reiffel, one of the officials in India’s five-wicket defeat at Mirpur, won his Australian baggy green in 1992 while Kumar Dharmasena, standing in the match between West Indies and Australia in St Vincent, first appeared for Sri Lanka in 1993.

Tendulkar, whose first of the 100 hundreds came in the Old Trafford Test against England 22 years ago, made his India debut in 1989.

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Middlesex all-rounder Gareth Berg might not be able to speak Italian but he is committed to the nation for the long haul, and intends to play on and get involved with coaching once his county career is over.

The 31-year-old, raised in South Africa before re-locating to England to play league cricket eight years ago, is able to play for Italy in the current ICC World T20 qualifiers through his Italian grandparents.

And his pride in his European heritage is revealed in the name of his son – Roman.

Follow me on Twitter @richardgibson74

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