It’s that time again when the grounds for the much-fought over Ashes Tests are announced for 2013 and 2015. When they were announced in 2009, there was uproar when it was discovered that Cardiff would host the first Test of the series.
The Cardiff Test in 2009, I think, surprised a lot of people. It provided a very good pitch, it went to a fifth day, and the result was a good one for England, which kept the supporters happy. The Cardiff Test has a place in many people’s hearts as a crucial match in the Ashes in recent years. Since then, Cardiff hasn’t done so well. The Sri Lanka Test (though rain affected) struggled with small crowds, and, as a result, low income. Unable to pay the ECB, the West Indies Test for 2010 was moved to Lord’s. In 2015 however, Cardiff will again host an Ashes Test match.
The 2013 Ashes Test venues are: Lord’s, Trent Bridge, Old Trafford, Durham, The Oval.
The 2015 Ashes Test venues are: Lord’s, Trent Bridge, Cardiff, Edgbaston, The Oval.
Lord’s in 2013 and 2015
Lord’s is back to its rightful place of hosting the first match of any series. Although Cardiff did prove a lot of people wrong in 2009, I think both fans and players alike missed the atmosphere and the sense of history that Lord’s provides.
Trent Bridge in 2013 and 2015
Many spectators have regarded Trent Bridge as an exemplary ground. It is a great place to visit and full of atmosphere. It has, like Lord’s and The Oval, been awarded two Ashes Test matches. On one hand, it seems a good move. Having missed out in 2009, it may have been felt by the ECB that Trent Bridge deserved two Ashes Test matches to compensate. Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad are likely to be delighted that their home ground has successfully bid for the Ashes in two successive series. On the other hand, it is a kick in the mouth for grounds such as Edgbaston, and for the Rose Bowl who lost out in both bids.
Old Trafford in 2013
It was not surprising to see Old Trafford get a Test match again, after failing to in 2009. Its redevelopment has been impressive, and it keeps strong links wit the local community, something the ECB looked at closely during this bidding process. It was slightly surprising that Old Trafford were awarded a 2013 Test instead of 2015, which would have given more time for the redevelopment to be complete and for the new pitch to bed-in.
Durham in 2013
It is great that a Test match has been awarded as high up the country as Durham, but there are some problems. First, it is a smaller capacity stadium. Second, there is an issue with the weather. Granted, it is unpredictable anywhere in the country, but if the Test in Durham is too close to September, it could be a genuine concern.
The Oval in 2013 and 2015
The Oval was already guaranteed these Tests, despite it not being viewed as warmly by spectators. Nevertheless, The Oval is a good host and will put on as good a show as it did in 2005 and 2009, where it held two very spectacular Ashes Test matches.
Cardiff in 2015
Cardiff, along with Durham to some extent, I cannot understand. Based on the Sri Lanka Test, it is evident that there isn’t enough passion for cricket in the local area to draw large enough crowds for most England Test matches. The Ashes will be different, and it is highly likely it will be a full-capacity ground. Nevertheless, Cardiff should not be given Ashes Test matches purely on the basis that they do not have the support to host any other Test series. The ground is also a lot smaller than the others, and so getting the maximum number of spectators to view the Ashes will not be achieved here.
Edgbaston in 2015
I have seen many complaints among my Warwickshire friends because Edgbaston misses out in 2013. To be honest, I cannot really see their argument. Yes, Edgbaston has recently undergone a redevelopment and is a lovely ground to visit. But, it hosted an Ashes Test in both 2005 and 2009, which left both Trent Bridge and Old Trafford missing out. It seems only right that Trent Bridge and Old Trafford are given an opportunity to host a Test match in its place. Where I can see where Edgbaston-regulars are coming from though, is in the case of Durham being given a Test. It is a smaller capacity ground, and less developed. Nonetheless, I believe Edgbaston should be content with its one Test in 2015. It is, afterall, better than none.
Of the ones who missed out, Headingley decided not to bid due to its financial problems. The Rose Bowl will feel the most aggreived, having hosted a good (albeit wet) Test match against Sri Lanka and having already proved its ability with One Day Internationals and International Twenty20. What will the Rose Bowl have to do to grab a chance to host an Ashes Test match?