ODI’s at Sophia Gardens

1999 saw the Welsh county host the Australian squad at Sophia Gardens ahead of the World Cup, besides staging their group match against New Zealand as the first One-Day International took place at Glamorgan’s headquarters at Sophia Gardens.

The match programme for the inaugural One-Day International at Cardiff. Image Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Sophia Gardens was also used for 1999 Rugby World Cup, with a huge tented village laid out over the square so that the competition`s sponsors could entertain their many corporate guests. Precautions were taken to protect the cricket pitch but when the huge marquees were removed, it was found that the grass below had withered. After the removal of the dead grass and roots, the whole square was re-seeded, whilst compacted areas of soil were removed. This significantly improved the aeration of the square, and thanks to the hard work of the ground staff, the pitches, for so long described as slow and low, now had decent pace and carry in the surface.

The Wooller Gates. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Other ground improvements saw the creation of special gates at the three major entry points into the ground – each named after the men who led Glamorgan to their Championship titles in 1948, 1969 and 1997. The first set of gates – the Wooller Gates – were created by Kenfig Ironcraft and formally opened on 29 June 2001 in front of many members of Wilf’s family as well as his former colleagues with the event coinciding with the annual reunion of the Glamorgan Former Players Association.

Robert Croft and the Welsh team celebrate a wicket in their ODI against England at Cardiff in 2002. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

2002 also saw Wales defeat England at Sophia Gardens as the Cardiff ground hosted a friendly one-international; game as the English limited-overs team warmed up for their forthcoming international triangular series with India and Sri Lanka. It was a ground-breaking `home international`, with Somerset`s Steffan Jones, Sussex`s Tony Cottey and South African Jacques Kallis joining the bulk of the Glamorgan squad for the 50 over friendly. The eight-wicket win by the Wales team, plus Glamorgan’s success in winning the National League in 2002 gave further impetus to the Club’s campaign for the further development of Sophia Gardens and the creation of a national cricket stadium.