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Kent Cricket chief executive Jamie Clifford admits the future of the Tunbridge Wells Cricket Festival is open to question

By Alex Hoad

Jamie Clifford admits the future of the Tunbridge Wells Cricket Festival is open to question after a week of frustration, not least due to the weather.

Kent’s Championship clash with Worcestershire this week was washed-out as a draw at Tunbridge Wells, much to chief executive Mr Clifford’s frustration.

He said: “That’s four years straight of bad weather here, though we had seven dry festivals before that. It’s a shame for the people of this part of the county.”

The Festival’s future was thrown into doubt this year with the local council withdrawing funding for a temporary stand which had previously allowed for limited-overs games to accompany Championship cricket during the week - a result Mr Clifford said was ‘disappointing.’

Mr Clifford admitted ‘the question is there’ regarding the future of the Festival and said: “The borough council decided to remove the support we have enjoyed in previous years and without that support it was not possible to hold a one-day game.

Kent chief executive Jamie Clifford
Kent chief executive Jamie Clifford

“We are not retreating back to HQ like some counties have done. We want to carry on playing cricket around the county and Tunbridge Wells is an important part of the mix.

“The immediate future of Tunbridge Wells Week does need to be sorted out very soon. We are redeveloping Beckenham and we hope to have a number of fixtures there every season from next year.

"We are also looking at staging games in Maidstone at some stage in the future, and work continues at Folkestone with a view to enticing us back there.”

Mr Clifford added: “Tunbridge Wells Festival needs to be secured. I would urge action from all those with an interest in making that happen.”

Another alternative venue could be outside of the county entirely, as Kent have been linked with involvement in a T20 ‘festival’ at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, alongside Essex and Middlesex from 2016.

Mr Clifford admitted: “I had a short conversation with (Essex counterpart) Derek Bowden and he asked if we would like to get involved. All I would really say is that it would make sense for us to be a part of any discussions that take place.

“There are no ideas at the moment, nothing concrete, we just want to make sure that Kent are part of the conversation.”

He added: “It might not be in the county, but you only have to talk to people in Ashford, who will tell you how quick it is to get to Stratford with the fantastic transport links.”

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