The Bramble Bank is a triangular sandbar located in the center of the Solent between Calshot in mainland Hampshire, England, and Cowes on the Isle of Wight. Through most of the year, the Bramble forms a patch of unusually shallow water, posing a perilous threat to the sea traffic using the busy strait. Once a year, however, it rises from the depths to become something “quintessentially English.”
Typically in August, during the country’s lowest spring tide, and only then, the Bramble Bank emerges for just short of an hour, providing sports fans with one of the most unusual cricket pitches in the world.
For decades, players and spectators from both sides of the Solent have patiently consulted tidal charts to prejudge when the bank surfaces, before loading themselves, equipment and more onto dozens of boats and setting off to this rare match.
Once the tide has lowered sufficiently to reveal the narrow, uneven, puddle-filled pitch, it is ready to play host to the two recurring teams, the Royal Southern Yacht Club of Hamble in Hampshire and the Island Sailing Club of Isle of Wight as well as fielding support from eager children. The match’s end is also determined by the tide, as play will continue until the waves begin to rise around the crowd within the hour. At this point, the match comes to a hasty close as bats and balls, wickets and wine glasses, spectators and sportspeople are all returned to their boats once more as the short-lived pitch returns to the sea for another year.
This sudden and soggy stop has little effect on the match’s end result, nor do the balls that are lost to the sea or carried off by the dogs that are welcome to join the game: The victorious team is predetermined as the two clubs take turns to win each year.
Know Before You Go
While there is no official address for the cricket patch, it'll be the hard-to-miss sandbar in the middle of the Solent. Keep an eye on the social media accounts of the Royal Southern Yacht Club and the Island Sailing Club for upcoming dates.