THIS is the world’s most bizarre match – played in the middle of the sea. It’s not a case of when rain stops play, more the time the tide comes in.
Hampshire in the UK may be playing host to new cricket competition The Hundred this year but it is also home to the surreal sporting scene.
It happens during the year’s lowest spring tide, usually in late summer, when two sides take to a sandbar, which surfaces in the middle of The Solent.
The annual Bramble Bank cricket match takes place in the sea between Hampshire and the Isle of Wight on a stretch of sand that only becomes visible once a year.
Believed to have started in the 1950s, this quirkiest of cricket matches sees local yacht clubs from either side of the Solent play against each other until play is stopped by waves.
And, putting yet another spin on everything, the match winner is always decided beforehand, although in true cricket fashion, the teams take it in turn to scoop top honours.
Watch this remarkable drone footage of the 2019 match, shot by the specialists at Maritime Filming UK.
For most of the year, the Bramble Bank is covered with shallow water, making it a well-known shipping hazard, but it emerges above the surface when the tide drops to its lowest point.
When it does, the Royal Southern Yacht Club, based in Hamble, Hampshire, and the Island Sailing Club, based in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, turn up for the Bramble Bank Cricket Match.
The match usually lasts around half an hour or so, before the sea reclaims the pitch.
The more traditional game returns to Hampshire when The Hundred arrives this summer. Scheduled to run throughout the summer, it will be staged at a number of UK venues.
Southampton’s Ageas Bowl is set to be one of the sites for the new family-friendly 100-ball cricket competition featuring some of the world’s best players.
One of the tournament’s eight teams is ‘The Southern Brave’ and the men’s and women’s teams, both featuring world-class talent, will be based at the Bowl.
Hampshire is often called the ‘cradle of cricket’ thanks to a club founded in the 1750s. Hambledon Cricket Club became one of England’s most powerful clubs, helping to develop the rules of the game.
Matches were played on Broadhalfpenny Down, where a permanent monument marks the links.
Meanwhile, The Bat and Ball pub, which became Hambledon’s clubhouse, today draws cricket fans from across the world to see memorabilia on the walls.
To plan a cricket short break see www.visit-hampshire.co.uk/cricket. For general tourist information head to www.visit-hampshire.co.uk. For more about The Hundred, see www.thehundred.com.
Main Bramble Bank cricket match image by Chris Gillingham
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