A damp World Test Championship final in Southampton has made everyone question whether the International Cricket Council (ICC) was right in picking England, especially Southampton, as the hosts for finals.
Along with the venue, the other question perhaps being raised is whether having a one-off Test after two and a half years of competitive cricket does justice to the cause and should the final from the next cycle onwards be a three-Test affair?
To begin with, the ICC has set aside the prospects of making the final a three-Test affair due to time constraints.
Was England the right choice? Why not Dubai?
When the ICC launched the WTC cycle around two years ago, its board members unanimously voted to have the final in England as reported by Indian Express.
The council has now defended its decision to have the final in England due to a couple of reasons; the final fell in June which is the peak of cricket season in England.
“It pains me to say it, but a ONE OFF & incredibly important cricket game should NOT be played in the UK,” former England captain Kevin Pietersen tweeted on Monday, adding: “If it was up to me, Dubai would always host a one off match like this WTC game. Neutral venue, fabulous stadium, guaranteed weather, excellent training facilities and a travel hub! Oh, and ICC home is next to the stadium.”
While holding the match in Dubai would have helped avoid rain, Dubai’s rising temperatures during this time of the year would have been unbearable for the players.
Why not Lord’s?
The WTC final was originally scheduled to be played at Lord’s but the ICC shifted the match to Southampton in January to ensure that the game is staged safely in the pandemic. Southampton’s on-site team hotel also ensured a safer and bio-secure environment. Both India and New Zealand have had all the training facilities inside the bubble, while India also got the nursery ground for their intra-team matches.
Is it always rainy in Southampton?
The home of the Hampshire County Cricket Club, Southampton, is the driest place in the country. Data from climate-data.org as reported by Indian Express shows that Southampton usually has 2.3 inches of rain in the month of June compared to London’s 2.4 inches. The wet weather at Southampton can be attributed to pure bad luck, as this is the first time in 10 years that two days of a Test in England have been lost to bad weather.
Why has the ICC ruled out a three-Test WTC final?
“In the long run, a best-of-three final will be ideal as a culmination of two-and-a-half years of cricket around the globe. But we have to finish it as quickly as possible because of the FTP that will start all over again,” Indian team head coach Ravi Shastri had said. Then again, a cramped Future Tours Programme (FTP) doesn’t give the ICC the leeway to make the WTC final a three-game affair. “There’s simply no space for a three-Test affair… That’s a month minimum out of the calendar (for all teams),” an ICC spokesperson told The Indian Express.
Four WTC finals are to be played during the 2024-2031 cycle and all of them will be one-off games.