World Test Championship final to be staged in Southampton

London (AFP) –


The inaugural World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand will be held in a bio-secure bubble in Southampton, ending hopes that the event could be safely staged at Lord's.

The plan had originally been to have the marquee match take place at the "home of cricket" in June but the ongoing shadow of the coronavirus pandemic forced a rethink.

The Hampshire Bowl was one of only two grounds selected to host men's international cricket in England last year, along with Old Trafford. Both venues have on-site hotel facilities.

If the British government’s phased easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures goes ahead as planned, a limited number of fans will be allowed into the ground for the match, taking place from June 18 to 22.

"The ICC (International Cricket Council) 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," said Geoff Allardice, ICC general manager for cricket.

He added: "We are confident that in selecting the Hampshire Bowl, we have given ourselves the best possible chance to successfully deliver the final whilst keeping everyone involved safe and healthy."

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

Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, said of the stadium: "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."