The International Cricket Council (ICC) have confirmed that the final of the World Test Championship between India and New Zealand will be played at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton. The one-off Test, which will be played from June 18-22, is also set to be played in front of fans.
After weeks of speculation, and even confirmation by BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, the International Cricket Council (ICC) have announced that the World Test Championship Final between India and New Zealand will be played at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton. The Test, scheduled to be played between June 18 and 22, was initially set to be played in Lord’s, but the presence of an on-site accommodation facility - which will reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission - meant that the governing body and the ECB tilted towards hosting the game in Southampton, which hosted multiple Tests in the pandemic-stricken summer of 2020.
The news was confirmed by Geoff Allardice, ICC General Manager, who described the WTC Final as a pinnacle event.
“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. 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,” an ICC release quoted Allardice as saying.
“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.
“I would like to thank the ECB for their guidance and advice to enable us to make this decision, which gives us the best possible opportunity to deliver a safe and successful World Test Championship Final.”
The UK government is expected to ease restrictions as the months pass by, opening an avenue for the presence of fans in the stadium. A release from the ICC stated that, should things go according to plan, the final between India and New Zealand could oversee spectators, albeit at a limited capacity.
“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,” a statement from ICC read.
ECB Chief Tom Harrison also expressed delight over the Hampshire Bowl being chosen as the venue, and described the stadium as the “world’s first fully bio-secure cricket venue.”
“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,” Tom Harrison said.