Lighting-up time at the Rose Bowl
Hampshire may have attracted a raft of criticism for their handling of the spectators during the Champions Trophy matches at the Rose Bowl, but that has not deterred their ambitions. According to the club chairman, Rod Bransgrove, plans are already in place to have permanent floodlights installed by 2006, with a view to becoming England's premier venue for day/night matches.
"I am confident we are offering the ECB something that it both wants and needs," Bransgrove told BBC Radio Solent. The ground, which was only completed in 2001, attracted 16,000 spectators for England's Champions Trophy fixture against Sri Lanka, but Bransgrove hopes to extend the capacity to 20,000 in the near future.
With its long summer days and the problem of dew in the mornings and evenings, England is not the natural venue for day/night matches, and just 10 have been hosted in the country to date - four at Old Trafford, three at Edgbaston, two at Chester-le-Street and one at Trent Bridge. On each occasion, however, temporary floodlighting has had to be erected, and so far only Chelmsford and Hove have installed permanent lights.
In spite of the problems that the Rose Bowl encountered during the Champions Trophy - in particular, traffic congestion and a lack of shelter for spectators - Bransgrove was adamant that the ground had done enough to prove it has a future on the international circuit. "If this tournament was regarded as the Rose Bowl's audition for long-term commitment to international cricket," he said, "I think it has passed that audition emphatically."
Hampshire has no plans to host a Test match in the near future, but it will be staging the inaugural Twenty20 match between England and Australia next summer.