Edgbaston, Old Trafford get Ashes Tests
Warwickshire and Lancashire are the big winners from the latest allocation of major matches with both counties allocated an Ashes Test in 2019. Both grounds have also been recommended to host a World Cup semi-final.
Edgbaston and Old Trafford have improved significantly in recent seasons following major investment, with Warwickshire's work recognised at the Business of Cricket Awards recently.
They and Lancashire and will now host Australia in five years' time. The Oval and Headingley were already guaranteed Ashes Tests for 2019 under a long-term staging agreement.
Of the six traditional Test grounds, Trent Bridge is the venue to miss out on an Ashes Test but will host Tests against South Africa in 2017 and India in 2018 and five World Cup matches. Twenty20 Finals Day will also return to Nottinghamshire in 2019.
Lord's, predictably, was given a large allocation of major matches, retaining their two Tests per season and also being recommended to the ICC as the venue for the 2019 World Cup final.
London's other ground, The Oval, will host the final of the Champions Trophy in 2017, the opening match of the 2019 World Cup and retains it's Test against the major tourists each summer. Edgbaston and Cardiff were named as the other host venues for the Champions Trophy with the ECB keen to replicate the proven formula of 2013.
But Hampshire were again left frustrated after being overlooked for an Ashes Test; Rod Bransgrove's dream of bringing Australia to the south coast for a Test goes on. The Ageas Bowl was awarded another Test against India for 2017 - despite very poor crowds for the same fixture last season.
Bristol, after a £10 million upgrade, was awarded an ODI in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and will also host a further four matches of the 2019 World Cup. In further good news for the Westcountry, Taunton will stage an international for the first time since 1999 when it hosts a T20 against South Africa in 2017 and will also stage three World Cup games.
The announcement represents the largest number of games allocated at the same time by the ECB as they attempt to provide counties with the ability to form a more stable long-term financial plan.
"The board commissioned international consulting firm Deloitte to examine very carefully the financial condition of all our major match venues," Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, said. "A significant amount of work was carried out with the ECB executive and the first class counties to ensure that these awards are made on a new financial basis which involves the share of risk between the ECB and the grounds. It means that grounds are incentivised to sell out while providing the best possible spectator experience.
'These awards have been made with the confidence that at the end of this period our venues will be in a much strengthened financial position which will be of real benefit to the game in England and Wales as it will significantly allow substantial debt repayments."
Major Match Allocation
v West Indies
Tests Edgbaston, Headingley, Lord's
ODIs: Bristol, Old Trafford, The Oval, Ageas Bowl, Trent Bridge
v South Africa
Tests: Lord's, Old Trafford, The Oval, Trent Bridge
ODIs: Chester-le-Street, Headingley, Lord's
T20: Cardiff, Ageas Bowl, Taunton
The Oval, Edgbaston, Cardiff
T20 Finals Day: Edgbaston
Tests: Headingley, Lord's
ODIs: Cardiff, Chester-le-Street, Old Trafford, The Oval, Trent Bridge
Tests: Edgbaston, Lord's, The Oval, Ageas Bowl, Trent Bridge
ODIs: Bristol, Headingley, Lord's, Old Trafford, Trent Bridge
T20 Finals Day: Edgbaston
ODIs: Bristol, Chester-le-Street, Headingley, The Oval, Ageas Bowl
Tests: Edgbaston, Headingley, Lord's, Old Trafford, The Oval
All subject to ICC approval
Semi-finals: Edgbaston, Old Trafford
Opening match: The Oval
Other hosts: Durham, Headingley, Trent Bridge, Cardiff, Bristol, Ageas Bowl
England v Winners ICC Test Challenge - Lord's
T20 Finals Day: Trent Bridge