Southampton to host WTC final between India and New Zealand, limited fans a possibility: ICC

Dubai, Mar 10 (PTI) The International Cricket Council on Wednesday formally announced that Southampton will host the inaugural World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand in June and a limited number of fans could be allowed if the easing of lockdown in the UK continues.

The game will be played inside a bio-secure bubble at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton from June 18-22. The venue was confirmed to PTI on Monday by BCCI President Sourav Ganguly.

“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,” the ICC statement read.

Initially, the final was supposed to be held at the Lord’s but the ICC Board and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) decided to change the venue to ensure that the fixture could be staged safely with the potential impact of COVID-19 minimised for all involved.

“In selecting the Hampshire Bowl, the ICC drew on ECB’s experience of delivering a full summer of bio-safe international cricket in 2020,” the ICC said.

“The venue provides world-class playing and training facilities, giving both teams the best possible environment in which to prepare.”

New Zealand were the first team to qualify for the final and they were joined by India following their 3-1 series win over England which concluded on Saturday.

“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,” Geoff Allardice, ICC General Manager, Cricket said.

England and Wales Cricket Board Chief Executive Officer Tom Harrison added: “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.” PTI