ECB seeks to aid long-term planning with seven-year schedule

The Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England

Featured image credit: ECB

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed the venues that will host England international matches from 2025 to 2031, which includes two home Ashes series, with the seven-year period designed to grant clubs greater certainty in their long-term infrastructure planning.

Today’s (Wednesday’s) announcement comes ahead of the start of this year’s Ashes between England and Australia at Edgbaston stadium, home of Warwickshire, in Birmingham on Friday.

The 2027 men’s Ashes series will take in Lord’s (Middlesex), the Kia Oval (Surrey), Edgbaston, Trent Bridge (Nottinghamshire) and the Ageas Bowl (Hampshire) in 2027, with England women meeting Australia in a Test match at Headingley (Yorkshire) as part of a multi-format series the same summer.

In 2031, the men’s side will contest five Tests at Lord’s, the Kia Oval, Emirates Old Trafford (Lancashire), Headingley and Trent Bridge, while the women’s multi-format series will include a Test match at the Ageas Bowl.

Following the first Test at Edgbaston, this year’s Ashes will head to Lord’s, Headingley, Emirates Old Trafford and the Kia Oval.

Further highlights of the match allocations, which have been agreed by the ECB Board, include England men’s next two Test series against India taking place at Lord’s, the Kia Oval, Edgbaston, Headingley and Emirates Old Trafford in 2025; and at Lord’s, the Kia Oval, Edgbaston, Emirates Old Trafford and the Ageas Bowl in 2029.

England women will play at Lord’s during each of the seven years during this period, with other major venues including the Kia Oval, Edgbaston, Headingley, Emirates Old Trafford, Trent Bridge and the Ageas Bowl each hosting the team at least four times during this period. England women’s internationals will also continue to be hosted at other venues around the country which have historically staged games.

The ECB has also confirmed today that Edgbaston will remain the home of Finals Day for domestic competition the T20 Blast.

The ECB last allocated fixtures for a five-year period, spanning 2020 to 2024, back in February 2018. For the first time, the same process has now been used for allocating men’s and women’s international matches, over the same period.

The ECB said that, given the new approach taken to allocating matches, there will be a mid-term review conducted in 2027-28 to ensure it is working appropriately.

Richard Gould, ECB chief executive, added: “For the first time, we are announcing long-term allocations for women’s international matches as well as men’s. We have seen huge growth in attendances for women’s matches in recent years, with this year’s women’s Ashes smashing previous records, and we want to build further on this in the years ahead.

“By announcing arrangements for the next seven years, we are also giving venues long-term certainty so that they can invest sustainably into stadium improvements and improved fan experiences.”

Today’s announcement means the Ageas Bowl will host Ashes Tests for the first time in its history, with chairman Rod Bransgrove stating the news sets a landmark for the venue, which first opened its doors in 2001.

“This award indicates final validation of our magnificent stadium as a genuine international and Test match ground,” Bransgrove said. “The Ashes fixture in 2027 will be a historic moment for Hampshire Cricket, the Ageas Bowl and for cricket in general as England and Australia engage in a Test match for the first time at our bespoke venue.

“For me, it represents the realisation of a long-held ambition; a dream come true. For all our dedicated staff, both past and present, the allocation of this match, the women’s Ashes Test in 2031, and the broader international and Test match programme over this seven-year period, represents full recognition of their amazing commitment and dedication over the past two decades. I salute their efforts and cannot thank them enough for their highly valued contributions.

“This allocation of men’s and women’s international fixtures is a game changer for the prospects of Hampshire Cricket and the Ageas Bowl.”

Separately, Hampshire has today announced that it is seeking a new naming rights partner for the ground after confirming that 2023 will mark the culmination of Ageas’ 12-year association with the venue.

Ageas – one of the largest car and home insurers in the UK – partnered with the then Rose Bowl in February 2012, marking one of the most successful long-term partnerships within the sport.