Euro 2020 Special
 

The Oval to stage 2023 WTC Final, Lord’s confirmed for 2025

It has been confirmed that the Oval will host the 2023 WTC Final, whilst Lord’s will stage the event in 2025. The news was announced by the ICC on Wednesday, meaning that the first three finals of this competition will take place on English grounds.

The inaugural final was played at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton in June last year, having been relocated from Lord’s for Covid security reasons.

New Zealand became the first winners of the competition, beating Indian by 8 wickets in the final.

Although early indications were that Lord’s would also stage next year’s final, pre-existing commercial agreements proved difficult, with the ICC demanding a “clean venue” for its own partners and sponsors. Instead, they have been given the consolation prize of the 2025 final.

 

Why choose England?

Some may wonder why England is being consistently chosen to stage WTC finals.

However, given that it takes place in June, countries like India and Sri Lanka are ruled out because of the monsoon season, whilst southern hemisphere nations – Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa – are in the middle of their winter months then.

Meanwhile, there are doubts as to whether the West Indies could successfully host a tournament of this nature, whilst the security situation in Pakistan makes that non-viable at present.

The UAE has staged a number of international tournaments in recent years – the 2021 T20I World Cup and the Asia Cup for example – and, given that it is a neutral venue, could be a good alterative in the future.

Another factor is that England remains one of the few countries where test cricket retains its popularity, and where good crowds are guaranteed even if the home side is not involved – which is already the case in 2023.

In other parts of the world, even home games can struggle to attract a decent crowd, and the ICC does not want one of its flagship events to be shown around the world with swathes of empty seats in the ground.

 

History of The Oval

The Oval has a long and proud history in its own right, and was the first ground in England to stage an international test match when Australia were the visitors back in 1880. The home ground of Surrey since 1845, by tradition the final test match of the English season is played there. It was the venue for the final of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017.

In the past, it has also staged other sporting events, including England’s first ever football international against Scotland, and the first ever FA Cup final in 1872. Rugby, hockey and even baseball matches have also been held there.

One distinctive feature of the ground is the tall Victorian gasometer that looms over the north-west stadium wall. Long disused, it was decommissioned in 2011, with plans announced to demolish it. However, after public protests, those plans were scrapped, and its future status was assured when it was given listed building status.

 

Seasoned Chief executive

Another reason that the Oval has been chosen is that that Surrey’s chief executive, Steve Elworthy, is considered a safe pair of hands, with a proven track record of organising large scale tournaments.

A former South African international, he has previously overseen the staging of seven global events, including the 2019 World Cup final (which, ironically enough, was staged at Lord’s).

 

 When will the final be?

The dare for the start of the final has yet to be confirmed, but it will either be on 6th or 8th June 2023. Like in 2021, allowance will be made for an extra day if needed, something that was required last year when bad weather earlier in the match forced play into a sixth day.

Unlike most test matches, there has to be a positive outcome, one way or the other.

 

Who will appear in the final?

At the moment, none of the current finalists are known, although Australia and South Africa are currently leading the standings.

From the point of view of organisers a nightmare scenario might be if India and Pakistan were to meet, given recent unrest in the city of Leicester between the two communities, which has been partially attributed to tensions arising out of their recent meetings in the Asia Cup.

 

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