The ECB has recently announced its venues for the major domestic and international matches from 2020 to 2024. Setting up the calendar for the 4 years, the announcement has led to some surprise snubs and predictable choices. Let’s have a look at the future hosts of English cricket…
Sticking with tradition
The big announcements have been made for English cricket’s calendar and I’m starting with the big one – the Ashes. The 2023 Ashes Tests have been awarded to 5 grounds: Birmingham’s Edgbaston, Leeds’ Headingley, London’s The Oval, London’s Lord’s and Manchester’s Old Trafford.
This comes as no surprise, as these grounds seem to be a favourite for English cricket. They are also the choices for the 2019 Ashes series, and the ECB has announced that these cities will also host the new 8-team Twenty20 tournament in 2020. As popular options for all cricket fans, these grounds are some of my favourite grounds too.
Notable snubs seen
While the favourites are set to return, there have been some notable absences from the line up too. There had been reports that Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl was set to host its first Ashes Test match in the 2023 series after having missed out in 2019. However, it once again missed out to the traditional and popular grounds.
Ageas Bowl was joined in disappointment by Glamorgan’s Swalec Stadium and Nottingham’s Trent Bridge, all of which failed in their bids to host the Ashes. There is some comfort for Trent Bridge as they will host 4 Test matches from now until 2024.
The allocation of the Tests marks a return to the format’s traditional outposts with Cardiff, Durham and Southampton awarded only limited‑overs internationals.
A London game?
These notable snubs are leading to the growing concern that cricket is becoming more capital-centric. London will host half of all England Test matches from 2020-24. With 2 out of the 5 Ashes Test matches taking place in London-based grounds, The Oval and Lord’s, the capital is fast becoming the dominant city for English cricket.
Confirmed changes to England’s international calendar
This release of dates and grounds also highlights so key changes to the usual cricketing season. England will cease to play 7 homes matches a summer, which has been the norm since 2000. Instead, they will play 6, making it even more notable that London venues will host 3 of these.
The number of T20 internationals each summer will rise to 6. This is a record for England – excluding England’s hosting of 2009’s World Twenty20 tournament. This is in recognition of T20’s growing popularity and importance.
The one-day international calendar will be rationalised, with only six games every summer. Five-match bilateral series in England will no longer be played. This comes as the style has been widely criticised for being overlong and lacking context.
All in all, safe bets have come in. The return to the traditional choices for the Ashes has been seen and I doubt any cricket fans will be surprised by this. Although a few grounds will be disappointed, I think we’re in for another great 4 years of English cricket.