Ageas Bowl lined up to host World Test Championship final

Southampton’s Ageas Bowl is set to host the inaugural final of cricket’s World Test Championship in June, according to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Sourav Ganguly, president of the BCCI, told the India Today news channel that the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided on the Ageas Bowl as the host venue “a long time ago”.

The Ageas Bowl would replace Lord’s as the host venue for the final, which will be contested by India and New Zealand. Ganguly said that the Southampton venue’s experience of hosting Test cricket amid COVID-19 last summer was one of the reasons it has been selected ahead of Lord’s.

The ICC has not yet confirmed the news, with a spokesman for the governing body telling the Reuters news agency that an announcement would be made in due course. The event would be held from June 18-22.

The 15,000-seat Ageas Bowl hosted the return of Test cricket following COVID-19 as England welcomed the West Indies on July 8 last year. The venue hosted the first Test between the two teams, with Manchester’s Emirates Old Trafford staging back-to-back Tests later in the month.

Ganguly told India Today: “It (the WTC final) is in Southampton. It has been decided a long time ago. They have the hotel, which makes it easier for them to control (the bio-secure environment). That’s why when England started cricket after COVID times, a lot of Test matches were held in Southampton and Manchester because they have hotels alongside the ground.”

Both the Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford operated as ‘bio-secure venues’ last summer, with health check and sanitisation points having been set up, along with vehicle screen areas, welfare units, perimeter fencing, temporary walling and temporary accreditation points. The Ageas Bowl also hosted matches against Pakistan, Ireland and Australia later in the summer.