Famous for county cricket, it has been the headquarters of Essex since 1967. It is a compact ground with good drainage facilities. The ground can be divided into one double-decker seating area, marquees, executive suites and single-tier seating, with everything in it for everyone. It is also one of the only two current grounds with permanent floodlights which were installed in 2002. The playing area, which slopes slightly from south-east to north-west, has been used for more than just cricket in the past: it was used for some time as a standby emergency helipad for the nearby hospital, until the casualty department was relocated. The first ODI to be held here was between Australia and India on June 20, 1983.