SCARBOROUGH’S famous Cricket Festival is synonymous with the game for fans across the world.
The legendary event has consistently left supporters bowled over as the best cricketers from across the globe revelled in entertaining rapturous crowds at the North Marine Road venue.
The ground’s tight-knit surroundings and super-charged atmosphere have always been a huge favourite on the English cricketing calendar.
However, the positivity coursing through the ground is only set to intensify next week when the 125th anniversary of the Cricket Festival gets under way.
During the winter the focus was off the pitch as the ground became a hive of activity with contractors carrying out extensive work to renovate the pavilion and East Terrace seating.
The improvements also included the demolition and replacement of the ground’s main toilet block on the eastern side, with an upgrade of the ticket office and scoreboards and a new club shop.
A new cricketing school and West Stand are also on the agenda for the future as the club strives to make the venue a key sporting attraction in the town.
However, for the time being, the focus is firmly back on the cricketing side, with the Festival set to welcome Yorkshire and Sussex for a key County Championship relegation encounter on Wednesday.
Kevin Grace, President of Scarborough Cricket Club, said the changes marked a watershed period for the ground, which would be the catalyst for future success.
He said: “When I took on this role I started talking to people about the ground who all felt we had an opportunity to do more with it.
“We started putting together a plan that would get the ground up to speed.
“However, we were very keen to do that in a traditional way because the heritage and history of the ground has a great appeal here and is very special.
“We endeavoured to get it to be a place which would attract people to the ground but also more people to the facility.
“We already know that a lot of people come from far afield for the Festival and Yorkshire’s games here but it would be great if more local people from Scarborough could benefit from these facilities.
“Everyone was so enlivened by the project and it really is something that gets under your skin, that is the beauty of the ground and Scarborough itself.”
Mr Grace, who watched games at North Marine Road in the past as a fan, said the ground, which earlier this month hosted the England Lions’ and Sri Lanka A, held a key role within Scarborough as a sporting base and catalyst for a tourism boost.
He said the ground had earned great reviews from fans who attended Yorkshire’s victory over Worcestershire last month, and was keen for the positivity to perpetuate.
He said: “The reaction we have had from spectators has been very positive to the changes.
“If you come as a member of the public the facilities are so much better.
“But the thing we are really pleased about is that it is in keeping with the history of the ground which is what we hoped to achieve.
“We made a big effort to make sure the tradition was here and that extends from the improvements in the stands to the pavilion’s appearance and even putting up more pictures of former Scarborough and Yorkshire cricketers in the building.
“The great thing for Scarborough is that a strong Festival here means a strong town which makes it a better place all round.”