Hampshire Bowl in Southampton, and not Lord’s in London, will host the much-awaited final of the World Test Championship, to be played between India and New Zealand, the International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed on Wednesday (March 10).
The venue for the final was changed due to COVID-19 safety protocols. “The final of the ICC World Test Championship between India and New Zealand will be staged in a bio-secure bubble at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton,” the ICC said in a statement.
“The decision, taken by the ICC Board, follows discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) where a range of options were considered to ensure the inaugural final could be staged safely with the potential impact of COVID-19 minimised for all involved.”
The ICC said that Southampton was chosen because it hosted most of England’s matches last year when the pandemic was at its peak. Besides, the stadium has a hotel attached to it, which was an added advantage, it said.
“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 venue provides world-class playing and training facilities, giving both teams the best possible environment in which to prepare. Whilst the on-site accommodation will significantly reduce the risk around COVID-19 transmission and better protect the health and safety of everyone involved in delivering the final,” the ICC said.
A fixed number of fans could be allowed for the final, if the UK government allows, the ICC said.
New Zealand became the first team to qualify for the final of the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship, to be held from June 18 to 22. They were joined by India after they wrapped up a 3-1 home win against England.