The Oval

This article is about the cricket ground in London. For other uses, see Oval (disambiguation).
"Surrey Cricket Ground" redirects here. For the cricket ground in Sri Lanka, see Surrey Village Cricket Ground.
"Kennington Oval" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Kensington Oval.
The Oval

The Oval Pavilion
Ground information
Location Kennington
London, SE11
United Kingdom
Establishment 1845
Capacity 26,000 [1]
Owner Duchy of Cornwall
Operator Surrey County Cricket Club
Tenants Surrey County Cricket Club
End names
Pavilion End
Vauxhall End
International information
First Test 6–8 September 1880:
 England v  Australia
Last Test 11–15 August 2016:
 England v  Pakistan
First ODI 7 September 1973:
 England v  West Indies
Last ODI 29 June 2016:
 England v  Sri Lanka
First T20I 28 June 2007:
 England v  West Indies
Last T20I 20 May 2014:
 England v  Sri Lanka
Team information
Surrey (1846 – present)
As of 13 August 2016
Source: ESPNcricinfo

The Oval, currently known for sponsorship reasons as the Kia Oval,[2][3] is an international cricket ground in Kennington, in the London Borough of Lambeth, South London.[4] The Oval has been the home ground of Surrey County Cricket Club since it was opened in 1845.[5][6][7] It was the first ground in England to host international Test cricket in September 1880.[8][9] The final Test match of the English season is traditionally played there.

In addition to cricket, The Oval has hosted a number of other historically significant sporting events. In 1870, it staged England's first international football match, versus Scotland.[10] It hosted the first FA Cup final in 1872,[11][12] as well as those between 1874[13] and 1892.[14] In 1876, it held both the England v Wales and England v Scotland rugby international matches, and in 1877, rugby's first Varsity match.[15]


The clock by the Members' entrance.

In 1844, Kennington Oval was a market garden[16] owned by the Duchy of Cornwall.[17][18] The Duchy was willing to lease the land for the purpose of a cricket ground, and on 10 March 1845 the first lease, which the club later assumed, was issued to a Mr. William Houghton (then president of the progenitor Montpelier Cricket Club) by the Otter Trustees who held the land from the Duchy "to convert it into a subscription cricket ground",[19] for 31 years at a rent of £120 per annum[20] plus taxes amounting to £20.[21] The original contract for turfing The Oval cost £300;[20] the 10,000 grass turfs came from Tooting Common and were laid in the Spring of 1845[18][19] allowing for the first cricket match to be played in May 1845. Hence, Surrey County Cricket Club (SCCC) was established in 1845.[5][19][22][23]

The popularity of the ground was immediate and the strength of the SCCC grew. On 3 May 1875 the club acquired the remainder of the leasehold for a further term of 31 years from the Otter Trustees for the sum of £2,800.[24]

In 1868, 20,000 spectators gathered at The Oval for the first game of the 1868 Aboriginal cricket tour of England, the first tour of England by any foreign side.[25] Thanks to C.W. Alcock, the Secretary of Surrey from 1872 to 1907,[26] the first Test match in England was played at The Oval in 1880 between England and Australia. The Oval, thereby, became the second ground to stage a Test, after Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).[27] In 1882, Australia won the Test by seven runs within two days. The Sporting Times printed a mocking obituary notice[28] for English cricket, which led to the creation of the Ashes trophy, which is still contested whenever England plays Australia.[29] The first Test double century was scored at The Oval in 1884 by Australia's Billy Murdoch.[30]

Surrey's ground is noted as having the first artificial lighting at a sports arena, in the form of gas-lamps, dating to 1889.[31] The current pavilion was completed in time for the 1898 season.[20][32]

In 1907, South Africa became the 2nd visiting Test team to play a Test match at the ground. In 1928, the West Indies played its first Test match at The Oval, followed by New Zealand in 1931. In 1936, India became the fifth foreign visiting Test side to play at The Oval, followed by Pakistan in 1954 and Sri Lanka in 1998.[33] Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have yet to play a Test match at the Oval.[34][35]

Cricket, WG Grace, 1891– Kennington Oval

The Oval is referenced by the poet Philip Larkin in his poem about the First World War, "MCMXIV".[36] During World War II, The Oval was requisitioned. Initially, it housed searchlights. It was then turned into a prisoner-of-war camp, which was intended to hold enemy parachutists. However, since they never came, the Oval was never used for this purpose.[37]

The first One Day International match at this venue was played on 7 September 1973 between England and West Indies.[38] It hosted matches of the 1975, 1979, 1983, and 1999 World Cups.[39] It also hosted five of the fifteen matches in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy, including the final.[40] The Oval once held the record for the largest playing area of any Test venue in the world. That record has since been surpassed by Gaddafi Stadium in Pakistan, although The Oval remains the largest in Great Britain.

Billionaire Paul Getty, who had a great affinity for cricket and was at one time SCCC President, built a replica of The Oval on his Wormsley Park estate.[41]

The famous gasholders just outside the ground were built around 1853.[42] With the gasholders now disused, there has been much speculation as to whether they should be demolished; however, many believe they are an integral part of The Oval's landscape and, therefore, their future looks secure.[43]

It was on 20 August 2006 at this ground that for the first time a team forfeited a test match. Pakistan were upset after Darrell Hair docked them five runs and changed the ball after claiming they had tampered with it on the fourth day of the final Test at The Oval. Pakistan debated the matter at tea and refused to come out for the final session. By the time they decided to resume, the umpires had called time and awarded the game to England.[44][45]

End names

The north-western end of The Oval is known as the Vauxhall End, as it is nearer to the district of Vauxhall and its railway station.[46][47] The opposite end (south-east) is known as the Pavilion End as it is the location of the Members' Pavilion.[46]

21st-century redevelopment

Surrey v Yorkshire (OCS stand in background)

At the end of the 2002 cricket season, Surrey started redeveloping the Vauxhall End.[48] The development included demolishing the outdated Surridge, Fender, Jardine, and Peter May north stands, and creating in their place a single four-tier grandstand, currently known as the OCS stand,[49] as it is sponsored by Outsourced Client Solutions International Facilities Management Services. This work was completed in May 2005 and increased ground capacity to around 23,000.[50]

In January 2007, Surrey announced plans to increase capacity by a further 2,000 seats, this time by redeveloping the Pavilion End. The Lock, Laker, and Peter May south stands were to be replaced by a new stand, which would have a hotel backing on to it.[51] The Surrey Tavern at the entrance to the ground would be demolished, and a new pedestrian plaza would be created in its place, improving access to the ground and opening up views of the historic pavilion.[51] These plans were delayed by objections raised by the Health & Safety Executive as the ground is close to a gasometer. Planning permission was eventually granted, but not before the credit crunch struck, as a result of which the plans were not proceeded with.

In 2009, four masts of semi-permanent telescopic floodlights costing £3.7m were installed for use in late-day through evening matches.[52] The floodlights were especially designed to comply with strict residential planning regulations to lessen their visual impact and any light overspill to residents, as well as to improve the game experience within the ground by reducing excess glare that can affect players, umpires, broadcasters and spectators. Precision reflector systems were fitted for tight beam control to decrease overspill and direct light only where needed. Each mast was made extendable to a maximum height of 47.6m and, when not in use, retractable to 30m. At the end of each season, all four masts can be removed and stored away.[53][54][55]

After the 2013 season, a new project was started to add 'wings' to either side of the OCS Stand at the Vauxhall End of the ground. The development was finished in time for the start of the 2014 season. Each 'wing' added 500 seats, increasing the capacity from 23,500 to 24,500.[56]

In September 2015, the Peter May and Tony Lock stands were demolished, to be replaced by a single new and much larger stand named after Peter May. May led Surrey to their sixth and seventh consecutive County Championships in 1957 and 1958 and also captained England from 1955 to 1961, winning the Ashes in 1956. Construction of the new stand, which cost around £10m, began in September 2015. It officially opened on 15 May 2016, increasing the capacity of the ground by 1,500 seats to 26,000.[57]

Following the demolition of the Tony Lock stand, the club renamed the Laker Stand as the Lock/Laker Stand, continuing to honour the contribution made by the spin partnership of Tony Lock and Jim Laker, who collectively took 3,108 wickets for the club.[58]


The Oval was also an important site in the historical development of football, before a separate national stadium was constructed specifically for the sport. Football had been played in this part of London for many years prior to the inauguration of The Oval: "The Gymnastic Society", arguably the world's first football club, met regularly at Kennington Common during the second half of the eighteenth century to play the game.[59]

First international football match

The Oval was the venue for the first ever international football match on 5 March 1870, England against Scotland, organised by The Football Association.[60][61] The game resulted in a 1–1 draw. Similar international matches between England and Scotland took place at The Oval until February 1872. On 8 March 1873, the England national team beat Scotland 4–2 in the first officially recognized international match played in England. England would continue to play occasionally at The Oval until 1889.[62]

Scores and results list England's goal tally first.
Date Result Opponent Competition Winner
5 March 1870 1–1 Scotland Scotland Friendly (unofficial) Draw
19 November 1870 1–0 Scotland Scotland Friendly (unofficial) England
25 February 1871 1–1 Scotland Scotland Friendly (unofficial) Draw
17 November 1871 2–1 Scotland Scotland Friendly (unofficial) England
24 February 1872 1–0 Scotland Scotland Friendly (unofficial) England
8 March 1873 4–2 Scotland Scotland Friendly England
6 March 1875 2–2 Scotland Scotland Friendly Draw
3 March 1877 1–3 Scotland Scotland Friendly Scotland
19 January 1879 2–1 Wales Wales Friendly England
5 April 1879 5–4 Scotland Scotland Friendly England
12 March 1881 1–6 Scotland Scotland Friendly Scotland
3 February 1883 5–0 Wales Wales Friendly England
21 March 1885 1–1 Scotland Scotland Home International Draw
26 February 1887 4–0 Wales Wales Home International England
13 April 1889 2–3 Scotland Scotland Home International Scotland

First FA Cup final

On 16 March 1872, The Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1–0 to win the first ever FA Cup. This final was notable for the Engineers' modern footballing style of teamwork rather than individual play.[63] C. W. Alcock, Secretary of The Football Association, was the prime mover of the competition. He had just become Secretary of Surrey so that The Oval was the natural choice of venue for the final. Alcock also captained the successful Wanderers side. The Oval hosted all subsequent FA Cup finals (1873 excluded) up until 1892.

The Oval is one of two grounds (Bramall Lane in Sheffield being the other) to have staged both England football and cricket internationals, and also FA Cup finals. The Oval also hosted the second ever Rugby Union international between England and Scotland in 1872 (the first was hosted at Raeburn Place a year earlier).

Results of FA Cup finals at The Oval

Year Attendance Winner Runner-up Notes
1872 2,000 Wanderers 1 Royal Engineers 0
1874 2,000 Oxford University 2 Royal Engineers 0
1875 3,000 Royal Engineers 1 Old Etonians 1
Replay 3,000 Royal Engineers 2 Old Etonians 0
1876 3,500 Wanderers 1 Old Etonians 1
Replay 1,500 Wanderers 3 Old Etonians 0
1877 3,000 Wanderers 2 Oxford University 1
1878 4,500 Wanderers 3 Royal Engineers 1
1879 5,000 Old Etonians 1 Clapham Rovers 0
1880 6,000 Clapham Rovers 1 Oxford University 0
1881 4,500 Old Carthusians 3 Old Etonians 0
1882 6,500 Old Etonians 1 Blackburn Rovers 0
1883 8,000 Blackburn Olympic 2 Old Etonians 1
1884 12,000 Blackburn Rovers 2 Queen's Park 1
1885 12,500 Blackburn Rovers 2 Queen's Park 0
1886 15,000 Blackburn Rovers 0 West Bromwich Albion 0 2–0 in the replay at the Racecourse Ground, Derby
1887 15,500 Aston Villa 2 West Bromwich Albion 0
1888 19,000 West Bromwich Albion 2 Preston North End 1
1889 22,000 Preston North End 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
1890 20,000 Blackburn Rovers 6 Sheffield Wednesday 1
1891 23,000 Blackburn Rovers 3 Notts County 1
1892 32,810 West Bromwich Albion 3 Aston Villa 0


An illustration of an 1872 England vs Scotland rugby match. The background right shows the distinctive gas holder of The Oval

Between 1872 and 1879, The Oval held seven full cap international rugby union matches, as follows:

Date Competition Home team Away team
5 February 1872  England 1G  Scotland 2G
23 February 1874  England 1G  Scotland 0G
15 February 1875  England 2G  Ireland 0G
6 March 1876  England 1G  Scotland 0G
5 February 1877 1877 Home Nations Championship  England 2G  Ireland 0G
4 March 1878 1878 Home Nations Championship  England 0G  Scotland 0G
24 March 1879 1879 Home Nations Championship  England 3G  Ireland 0G

On Wednesday 3 March 1875, The Oval held the final of the United Hospitals Challenge Cup, the oldest rugby union cup competition in the world.

Conferences and events

As well as being an international sporting venue, The Oval has a conference and events business. The Corinthian Roof Terrace built on the OCS Stand in 2013 features panoramic views of the London skyline.

Other events

The ground has also hosted other events, including hockey fixtures and concerts.

The Oval has hosted exhibition matches for Australian rules football. The first such match was held between Carlton and a team of All-Stars in 1972.[64] In 2005, a record crowd for Australian rules football in England (18,884) saw the Fremantle Dockers defeat the West Coast Eagles. In 2012, approximately 10,000 attended a post-season exhibition match between Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs, which Port Adelaide won by 1 point.[65]

In October 2011, the ground served as the practice facility for the NFL's Chicago Bears.

Oval gasometer and gasworks

A nearby Victorian gasometer has been a feature of the view from the ground since the 1800s. A movement to preserve iconic gasometers across Britain has emerged in recent years with the one visible from The Oval often cited as a landmark example. The skeletal but decorative structure is a landmark in the area and has become part of The Oval's history and allure. The famed cricket commentator Henry Blofeld once said in a broadcast, "As the bowler runs in, it’s so quiet you can hear the creak of the gasometer." When plans to demolish the aging structure were announced in 2013, he stated: “In comparison, pulling down the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace would be child’s play.”[66]

Transport connections

Service Station/Stop Lines/Routes served Directions
London Buses London Buses Oval Station 36, 185, 436 100 metres
Camberwell New Road 155, 333 200 metres[67]
Oval Station 155, 333 190 metres[68]
London Underground London Underground Oval Northern line 190 metres
Vauxhall Victoria line 850 metres[69]
National Rail National Rail South West Trains

See also


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  32. Archived 1 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
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  37. David Lemmon, The History of Surrey County Cricket Club, Christopher Helm, 1989, ISBN 0-7470-2010-8, p197.
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  64. Brown, Alf (30 October 1972). "Carlton won match, but not the English". The Herald. Melbourne. p. 24.
  65. "Port Adelaide wins AFL exhibition game against Western Bulldogs in London". 4 November 2012.
  66. Sean O'Hagan, Gasworks wonders…, The Guardian, 14 June 2015.
  67. "Stop N to Lockwood House – Google Maps". 1 January 1970. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Oval cricket ground, London.
Preceded by
FA Cup
Final Venue

Succeeded by
Lillie Bridge
Preceded by
Lillie Bridge
FA Cup
Final Venue

Succeeded by

Coordinates: 51°29′1″N 0°6′54″W / 51.48361°N 0.11500°W / 51.48361; -0.11500

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