London Stadium being seriously considered as a venue for the 2019 Cricket World Cup

Tim Wigmorein Cricket

The London Stadium is being seriously considered as a venue for the 2019 Cricket World Cup as part of plans to use the tournament to grow the sport's appeal. It is also being considered as a venue for the opening ceremony of the competition.

The England and Wales Cricket Board believes that awarding World Cup games to the London Stadium, as it is now known, could help to introduce a new generation of fans to the sport, as well as servicing the huge interest in some matches. Demand for the India-Pakistan fixture in next year's Champions Trophy, which is being played at Edgbaston, was such that the ECB believes the game could have been sold out eight times over.

Ticket prices for matches at the London Stadium could also be lowered, because the venue can host 60,000 people for cricket, more than twice as many as any other cricket ground in the UK.

Essex's chief executive has already said that the county's "objective" is to play two or more Twenty20 matches at the London Stadium in 2018. The ECB will discuss the ground's suitability to host major matches with Essex in the coming days and the ECB intends to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study to determine whether World Cup fixtures could be played there.

It must explore not only whether the playing surface would be large enough for one-day international cricket, but also how to prepare a wicket in time, potentially using drop-in pitches, given that the stadium is normally used by West Ham United. The 2019 World Cup is scheduled to run from 30 May to 15 July, outside the football season.

Taking Cricket World Cup games to the London Stadiumhe idea would be controversial. While the size of the boundaries remains unknown, a county chief executive suggested that they "would be ridiculously short for international cricket, and would compromise the credibility of the game". Eden Park in New Zealand, which was designed for rugby union, has unusually small straight boundaries and contravenes the International Cricket Council's regulations, but it has dispensation to be able to host games including at the World Cup last year. The London Stadium might also need to apply for an exemption from ground-size requirements.

Many counties would also be unhappy if the London Stadium is chosen to host games. The 11 venues for the 2019 World Cup were picked at the end of 2014, with each ground awarded a specific number of matches out of the 48 in the tournament. Were the Olympic Stadium to host games, other grounds would lose out, adding to tensions between counties and the ECB at a time when the governing body is attempting to push forward with a new streamlined Twenty20 domestic competition - a tournament for which the London Stadium will also be considered.

"The ECB risks undermining the sustainability of current international grounds. If we need bigger capacity then the ECB should assist existing grounds to increase capacity," said one county chief executive, warning that it would "be seen as a betrayal of the game in England", and suggesting that counties who lost matches could resort to legal action. However, it is possible that the ECB could generously compensate grounds whose allocation of World Cup matches was reduced. The London Stadium would be unlikely to host more than three games in the tournament.

You can read the full article from The Guardian HERE

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