The ICC World Test Championship final, which was initially stated to be held at the Lord’s in London, will now be played at a different venue after the ICC announced that a venue is yet to be finalized.
The one-off match, which will be played from June 18 to 22, was widely tipped to be played at the Mecca of Cricket but an ICC source, who spoke to Times of India, has stated that the ongoing pandemic has driven the cricket body to take a call on an alternate venue.
"The venue will be announced soon. Lord's is not the venue the ICC is planning for. ICC will be advised by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and its own medical health professionals to decide on the venue for the final. There could be a case of creating a similar bio-secure bubble as the ECB had for the last home summer," as quoted by the ICC source to the Indian publication.
Amidst the speculations for the new venue, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly has reportedly confirmed that Southampton will host the final between New Zealand and India.
"I'm looking forward to attending the World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand in Southampton," Ganguly said.
"Yeah, it is in Southampton. It was decided a long time ago. Due to COVID and they [in Southampton] have the hotel absolutely close. When England resumed play after COVID, they had a lot of matches in Southampton due to the same reason."
Rod Bransgrove, chairman of the Hampshire County Cricket Club, confirmed that an approach was made to host the World Test Championship final at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. "I can't give much information apart from the fact that there has been discussion about it."
"I am the chairman of Southampton and I can say we have been asked to stage it and also inquired if Southampton is available. I don't know if anything has been finally decided as yet," Bransgrove said.
The ICC is expected to make a formal announcement for a venue, and speculations are rife that the world body is about to come up with the playing conditions for the maiden final, as a reserve day (June 23) has been kept ready.
After New Zealand became the first finalist of the biennial ICC World Test Championship, the Indian cricket team booked their place after defeating England by an innings and 25 runs in the fourth Test in Ahmedabad and winning the four-Test series by a scoreline of 3-1.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / Mohit Singh Chamyal