As the image above shows, Abergavenny was widely regarded as one of the most picturesque grounds on the first-class circuit. The intimate atmosphere of the compact ground, plus its rural location, nestling amongst the tree-topped hills on the Welsh border, a mile or so to the north of the market town, its quaint pavilion and irregular boundary, all provided a timely reminder of what cricket must have been like in the pre-commercial era.
The Abergavenny club dates back to 1834 and since 1896 they have been playing at the Avenue Road ground on land owned by the Marquess of Abergavenny. The Marquess proved to be a kind benefactor to the cricket club, financing the building of the pavilion and covering the costs of creating a decent wicket. The reward for all this effort was the addition of Abergavenny to the Monmouthshire fixture list, and in 1910 the Avenue Road ground staged their Minor County fixture with Carmarthenshire.
In 1935 Glamorgan merged with Monmouthshire in 1935, with 2nd XI and Club and Ground fixtures subsequently taking place at Abergavenny. In 1948 the ground hosted Glamorgan`s Minor County fixture with Devon, and with Glamorgan pledging to stage first-class matches in Monmouthshire, the Abergavenny officials hoped that their attractive home would soon host a Championship fixture. The superior facilities and larger pavilion at Ebbw Vale won the day, but a series of ground improvements took place at Avenue Road after a fire in 1977 had severely damaged the pavilion and completely destroyed the adjoining tea-room. A generous grant from the Welsh Sports Council helped to pay for the renovations and the creation of much larger facilities, and all at a time when Glamorgan were looking to stage more games at out-grounds.
In 1981 Abergavenny played host to the Sunday League game with Worcestershire, followed in 1982 by the fixture with Northamptonshire. The Glamorgan officials were suitably impressed by the hard work, both on and off the field by the Abergavenny folk, as well as the generous sponsorship from local businesses, so in May 1983 the Abergavenny ground staged the first of fourteen County Championship fixture which Glamorgan allocated to the ground.
The county batsmen thrived at Abergavenny and took full advantage of the placid wicket and small boundaries. One of the best examples was the 1990 fixture against Worcestershire, as Graeme Hick recorded a superb 252*. Phil Neale, the visiting captain, then set Glamorgan a target of 495 to win on the final day, with the Welsh county ending on 493-6, and coming agonisingly close to a record-breaking victory.
The most famous game in the ground`s short Championship history came in August 1995 as Andrew Symonds made 254 and smashed the world record for the most number of sixes in a first-class match. The Australian hit 16 in his double-century, followed by four more in the second innings. Almost unnoticed Indian all-rounder Javagal Srinath claimed 13/150, and his supreme efforts, on a ground regarded as a bowlers graveyard, were in keeping with the almost unreal atmosphere which is generated by this most idiosyncratic, and charming, of county cricket venues.
Click on the link below to see the ground records at Avenue Road, Abergavenny