Birmingham’s Edgbaston Stadium has been allocated one of its best programmes of major match cricket for the period covering 2020 to 2024.
It was duly confirmed on Wednesday evening as a host for the new domestic Twenty20 tournament set to begin in 2020, alongside Glamorgan’s SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff and the Ageas Bowl
There will not yet be an inaugural Ashes Test on the south coast, or indeed any Tests between 2020 and 2024 at a venue still only 17 seasons old.
Edgbaston, which has hosted international cricket since 1902 and staged its 50th Test match last summer, has been awarded a Test match in four of the five scheduled years, including a fixture in the all-important Ashes series of 2023.
In total, the venue will host 31 days of major match cricket over the five-year period, including three One-Day Internationals and three International T20s whilst also being awarded Finals Day of the existing Vitality Blast for the five-year period.
There was also Ashes disappointment for Nottinghamshire as it was confirmed Trent Bridge will not host a Test between England and Australia in 2023 – as it has in the last two home series of 2013 and 2015.
Edgbaston will also continue as the exclusive home of T20 Blast finals day, while a significant consolation for Trent Bridge will be that Nottingham becomes the annual venue for the domestic 50-over final from 2020.
Lord’s will therefore no longer be the scene of that showpiece, as it traditionally has been throughout the history of domestic one-day competitions.
The home of cricket will, however, retain its two Tests per summer alongside its London neighbour, The Oval, to complete the list of six venues that will host the premier international format over the five-year cycle.
For Twenty20 and one-day internationals, 10 grounds, will stage matches each summer, with the six Test grounds added to by the Ageas Bowl, Cardiff, Bristol and Durham’s Riverside.
Neil Snowball, Chief Executive of Warwickshire CCC, said: “This award of high profile matches is excellent news for everyone connected with Edgbaston Stadium and it provides us with a solid platform on which we can build a strong and sustainable financial future for Warwickshire County Cricket Club.
“The club has made a significant investment into the stadium over the last decade and we have some of the best facilities in world cricket along with the largest capacity outside of London. When you combine that with our proven ability to sell out the stadium for high profile matches, this enabled us to put forward a compelling case to the ECB to host regular Test Matches, a regular supply of limited over internationals and to continue as the home of the T20 Blast Finals Day over this five-year period.
“This award of matches is also recognition of the tremendous effort that all of our staff have made over recent years to make sure that every visitor to Edgbaston Stadium receives a warm and friendly welcome, which has consistently been reflected in our customer experience scores.
“We must also recognise the thousands of supporters who come to Birmingham year after year and create the unique Edgbaston atmosphere that is celebrated throughout the game and brings out the very best in the players who have the opportunity to perform at ‘Fortress Edgbaston’.”
ECB deputy chairman Ian Lovett said: “Today’s discussion and decision followed a rigorous, comprehensive and detailed process by the independent Host Venue Panel, in which they assessed a range of high-quality submissions and presentations.
“With a five-year period of international and domestic cricket in prospect, as well as our new competition being developed, there was very strong interest in hosting these events, and the overall standard of submissions was excellent.
“The ECB board recognised the quality and integrity of the process and has endorsed the recommendations, with the next stage the detailed discussion and agreement with each of these selected venues.”
A Hampshire statement on the county’s website read: “Hampshire Cricket is delighted to announce that the Ageas Bowl has been chosen as one of the host venues for this ground-breaking new (Twenty20) competition and has also been awarded a total of seven England international fixtures during this period.”
Nottinghamshire chief executive Lisa Pursehouse described herself as “absolutely delighted” with the fixtures granted to Trent Bridge – headlined by four Tests in five years, with just the Ashes summer missing.
She added: “Of course we would have very much liked to have staged an Ashes Test, having hosted terrific matches here in 2013 and 2015 – it would have been the icing on the cake.
“However, given the reduction to six matches per year, it was a hugely competitive bid process for Test cricket, so we are very happy that we have secured four in the five-year period. That was our number one priority.”
Glamorgan chief executive Hugh Morris, meanwhile, hopes confirmation that Cardiff will host a Twenty20 franchise “will be the catalyst for cricket to grow in Wales”.
In addition to the 31-day programme of major match cricket, Edgbaston will host one of the eight teams in the ECB’s new T20 competition which launches in 2020.
Snowball added: “We’ve made huge progress attracting more families and in developing our T20 offering at Edgbaston in recent years, which has seen attendances treble and our match day experience scores increase substantially.
“Birmingham has a very young and diverse population so to have the opportunity to host a team in this exciting new competition is a fantastic opportunity to build on this work and to attract even more youngsters to cricket.”
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “We’re very proud of Edgbaston for continuing to bring the biggest matches in cricket to our great sporting city, and for the work that the team has done in transforming the ground into one of the finest cricket venues in the world.
“We’re thrilled that it has again been awarded such a strong allocation of fixtures, in particular the right to host an Ashes Test, which will put Birmingham at the centre of the sporting world in 2023 and bring great benefits to our local economy.
“Birmingham hosting a team in the new T20 competition also presents a fantastic opportunity to further develop the sport in the city. We know that the club has made huge strides in attracting more people to its T20 games, particularly families, and we look forward to following the development of this new competition in the city and across the region.”
Emma Gray, Director of Marketing & Communications at Visit Birmingham, said: “International cricket at a packed Edgbaston Stadium is one of Birmingham’s iconic summer images and has played a part in the city welcoming a 17% increase in domestic tourists and a 52% rise in overseas guests in the last five years.
“With the 2022 Commonwealth Games recently awarded to Birmingham, these latest fixtures at Edgbaston Stadium are another tremendous endorsement of the region’s ability to successfully deliver global sporting events.”
Source : BirminghamMail