Despite several efforts to kill it off over the last decade, the Champions Trophy is back in 2017 and the matches will take place at three grounds across England and Wales over the first half of June. The three grounds will be the Kia Oval, Edgbaston and the SSE Swalec in Cardiff.
Kia Oval, London
The Oval in Kennington is one of the most iconic cricket grounds in the world. The now out-of-use gas holders and the Victorian pavilion have been the backdrop for the denouement of many a Test series — perhaps the best remembered being when England managed to draw against Australia in 2005 to reclaim the Ashes for the first time in 18 years. That series, perhaps the greatest ever, captured the imagination of the British public in a way no contest has since, and the Oval was where the final act was played out with Kevin Pietersen making a swashbuckling 158 to secure a draw for his team.
The Oval has been a sports ground since 1845 and played host to the first ever Test match in England. It took place over two days in August 1882 — England lost as Billy Murdoch’s Australians won by seven runs. That defeat was the birth of the Ashes legend when a mock obituary was published in the Sporting Times lamenting the death of the game in England.
“In Affectionate Remembrance of ENGLISH CRICKET, which died at the Oval on 29 August 1882, Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances R.I.P.
N.B. – The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”
The Oval hosted its first One-Day International in September 1973 when England were soundly beaten by the West Indies having limped to 189 for nine in their 55 overs before a Roy Fredericks hundred allowed the visitors to chase down the target with time to spare.
Of course, the Oval has some Champions Trophy fame as well. It was there that England choked when on course for a facile win against the West Indies in the 2004 final. Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Browne put on 71 runs for the ninth wicket to deprive England of their first ever global one-day trophy. England will be hoping for better returns when they take on Bangladesh in the opening match of this year’s tournament on 1 June.
The land on which Edgbaston now sits was originally owned by the Calthorpe Estate, the family holdings of the descendants of Sir Henry Gough, who was made a Baronet in 1728. It was founded in 1882 because it was believed that a cricket ground would add to the general aesthetics of that area of Birmingham. Warwickshire County Cricket Club moved to the ground in 1885 and have been there since.
The first international match played at the ground was the opening Test match of the 1902 Ashes, a match that saw England score 376 for nine before they bowled Australia out for 36. Victor Trumper top-scored with 18 and Australia followed-on. Rain meant they escaped with a draw despite being 46 for 2 in their second innings with Trumper already gone for 14.
Top-level day/night cricket did not arrive in England until 1997 when three grounds (Hove, the Oval and Edgbaston) each put on a single match of that year’s Sunday League using temporary floodlights, and the first match was at Edgbaston. It was supposed to be at the Oval when Surrey were due to play Nottinghamshire but that game was abandoned due to rain.
The ground also has some Champions Trophy history, with it hosting the final of the 2013 edition. As has become something of a tradition, England made it to the final, looked like they had it won and then cocked it up in embarrassing fashion. England needed 20 runs to win from 16 balls with Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara well set. They departed on successive balls to the bowling of Ishant Sharma and England lost by six runs.
SSE Swalec, Cardiff
The cricket ground at Sofia Gardens, Cardiff has been the home of Glamorgan County Cricket Club since 1967 and has been an international venue since it hosted its first ODI during the 1999 World Cup. It was a match that saw eventual winners, Australia, take on their trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand. It was the only time that Australia lost in the tournament as former Warwickshire batsman Roger Twose made a match-winning 80 not out to give the Kiwis victory.
Cardiff did not host an England ODI until 2006, instead being the host to a further four internationals as a neutral venue. Perhaps the most famous of these was in 2005 when Bangladesh upset the mighty Australians by five wickets thanks to a hundred from Mohammad Ashraful. When Cardiff finally did get an England ODI in 2006, the match finished as a rain-affected no result with only seven overs of Pakistan’s innings possible as they set out in pursuit of 203 for victory.
When the 2008 ODI against South Africa saw just three overs sent down before torrential rain arrived it raised lots of questions about the thinking behind giving international matches to a venue in rainy South Wales — Cardiff was the wettest UK city in 2017 with two other Welsh cities in the top five. Still, if we are going to stop arranging cricket in various places in the UK because it might rain then we would need to abandon the whole endeavour.
A massive redevelopment of the ground ahead of it hosting its first Test match in 2009 saw the small county ground became a 16,000-seater stadium. The first Cardiff Test, against Australia in the opening match of that year’s Ashes series, ended in a dramatic draw with England’s last pair seeing out 11.2 overs.
Cardiff was a venue for the 2013 Champions Trophy and saw one of the more entertaining moments of the tournament when MS Dhoni removed his wicket-keeping pads during India’s semi-final win over Sri Lanka. He even had a wicket with his second ball before Mahela Jayawardene successful overturned the decision on review.
Cardiff has just three group games because the city also plays host to the UEFA Champions League final in June, and also hosts a semi-final.
Updated Date: May 19, 2017 15:15:33 IST