World Test Championship: WTC Final to be played in Southampton, fans may be allowed
The ICC World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand, which was scheduled to take place at cricket’s most iconic venue Lords, will now be played in a bio-secure bubble at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton. The final will be played from June 18 to 22 with June 23 kept as the reserve day.
The decision, taken by the ICC Board, follows discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) where a range of options were considered to ensure the inaugural final could be staged safely with the potential impact of COVID-19 minimised for all involved.
In selecting The Hampshire Bowl, the ICC drew on ECB’s experience of delivering a full summer of bio-safe international cricket in 2020. The venue provides world-class playing and training facilities, giving both teams the best possible environment in which to prepare. Whilst the on-site accommodation will significantly reduce the risk around COVID-19 transmission and better protect the health and safety of everyone involved in delivering the final.
Should the UK government’s phased easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures proceed as planned, it is anticipated that a limited number of fans will be allowed into the Hampshire Bowl to watch the final.
New Zealand was the first team to make the ICC World Test Championship final and they were joined by India following their series win over England which concluded on Saturday.
“The ICC World Test Championship final is the pinnacle event in the Test calendar and is intended to be a week-long celebration of the oldest form of the game,” said Geoff Allardice, ICC General Manager, Cricket in an official statement.
“A format that is rooted in tradition and features the best that the game has to offer. I would also like to congratulate both India and New Zealand for becoming part of history by reaching the first final.”
“We are confident that in selecting the Hampshire Bowl, we have given ourselves the best possible chance to successfully deliver the final whilst keeping everyone involved safe and healthy and giving fans the opportunity to watch the two best Test teams in the world go head-to-head for the right to call themselves the ICC World Test Champions,” Allardice added.
Tom Harrison, Chief Executive Officer, England, and Wales Cricket Board said: “We are delighted that the ICC has chosen to host the inaugural World Test Championship final at The Hampshire Bowl.
“As the world’s first fully bio-secure cricket venue, it has shown itself capable of delivering international matches to the highest of standards, even against the backdrop of a global pandemic. I am sure the finale of the ICC World Test Championship will be a wonderful occasion.”
Rod Bransgrove, Hampshire Cricket Chairman, said: “We are honoured and delighted that The Hampshire Bowl has been appointed as the host venue for the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final. I should like to sincerely thank the ICC for this huge demonstration of confidence in our capabilities and the ECB for its significant support of the venue as host of what will be the biggest Test match event ever staged.”