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Ten Cricket Stadiums You Need to Visit Before You Die

Alex TelferFeatured Columnist IJanuary 3, 2017

Ten Cricket Stadiums You Need to Visit Before You Die

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    One of the best parts of attending any sporting event is that moment when, after entering the ground, you catch your first glimpse of the hallowed turf (or whatever surface is particular to that sport).

    No matter how many times you have been there before, it is always a magical moment.

    Every sport has its own cathedrals, responsible for a treasure-trove of memories, and cricket is no different.

    From crumbling dilapidated rusty shacks, to historic-listed buildings, to picturesque sun-kissed stadia in the shadow of iconic mountain ranges, the game played with leather and willow has all the boxes ticked.

    Anyway, without further ado, let's take a look at ten cricket stadiums you should visit before you die.

    Please note, for the purposes of this list, I have ruled out grounds that don't host Test Matches which unfortunately eliminates numerous stunning smaller candidates.

10: Basin Reserve

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    Location: Wellington, New Zealand

    Capacity: 11,600

    Whenever the beige brigade begin to appear in downtown Wellington, it's a sure sign that international cricket is imminent at the Basin Reserve.

    New Zealand's cricketing HQ was established in 1869 and is the only ground in the country to have Historic Place status, something Martin Crowe, who averages over 70 in Test Cricket here, would definitely agree with.

    Overlooked by Mount Victoria and Mount Cook, the stadium is a scenic escape from the hustle and bustle of the Kiwi capital, although, sadly, the tranquillity could soon be broken if plans to build a nearby flyover get the green light.

    Interesting fact:

    The area only became suitable for a cricket pitch after the 1855 Wairarapa earthquake levelled the land.

9: Queen's Park Oval

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    Location: Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

    Capacity: 25,000

    Since the Antigua Recreation Ground joined the cricket graveyard in the sky and the Kensington Oval lost a little intimacy, the Queen's Park Oval has flown the flag for Caribbean's old eccentric stadiums.

    Set against a stunning backdrop of hills and a cacophony of music, the enthusiastic local crowd make a well-populated Test in the Trinidadian capital a memorable experience.

    Every Caribbean ground has a larger-than-life character who acts as a ring-leader and the Queen's Park faithful are led by 'Blue Food,' the hardest Conch-shell blower in the land.

    Interesting fact:

    In 1994, the West Indies produced a scintillating performance with the ball to bowl England all out for just 46.

8: Galle

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    Location: Galle, Sri Lanka

    Capacity: 35,000

    With the Indian Ocean on either side and the ramparts of a sixteenth century Dutch fort looking down upon it, Galle International Stadium is one of cricket's most instantly recognisable arenas.

    Combine the setting with fun-loving crowds, the nearby beach and a result-friendly wicket and it's a match made in heaven for fans.

    Sadly, in 2004, the future of the venue was put in doubt when it was ravaged by the devastating Asian Tsunami. But the iconic venue was restored with the aid of legends such as Shane Warne and Ian Botham.

    Interesting Fact:

    Galle truly is a fortress for Sri Lanka who have lost only four times in 21 Test Matches.

7: MCG

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    Location: Melbourne, Australia.

    Capacity: 100,018

    To some a huge concrete bowl, to others the spiritual home of Australian sport, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is the tenth largest sports venue in the world.

    As well as hosting the traditional Boxing Day Test Match and the various Limited overs game that Australia contest in Victoria, the huge coliseum is base to a plethora of Aussie Rules teams and even acted as the main stadium for the 1956 Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Game.

    Although the MCG isn't everyone's cup of tea, due to it's lack of intimacy and its hard-drinking fans, the sheer history and size of the place make it a must on any sports fan's bucket list.

    Interesting Fact:

    The 'G' played host to one of Australia's most disgraceful cricket incidents when Trevor Chappell, at the instruction of his brother and captain Greg Chappell, bowled the final delivery of a ODI game against New Zealand underarmed, to prevent the opposition having any chance of hitting the ball for six.

6: Lord's

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    Location: St Johns Wood, London, UK

    Capacity: 28,000

    Lord's, the "home of cricket," has more history than a museum. This famous ground was built in 1814 and is currently owned by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) whose members are easily identified by their 'bacon and egg' gear.

    The stadium is home to numerous world-famous iconic features such as the Long Room, which the players walk through to get on and off the pitch, a stunning Victorian-era pavilion and surely the only famous weather vane in the world, Old Father Time.

    A relatively recent addition was the Media Centre, whose futuristic appearance, despite originally prompting outrage among traditionalists, has added a twenty-first century twist to the grounds' alluring charm.

    Interesting Fact:

    Both the home and away dressing rooms contain an honours board for players who have scored a century or taken five wickets in a Test Match. Getting your name inscribed on this permanent record is a rite of passage for any player.

5: Newlands

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    Location: Cape Town, South Africa

    Capacity: 25,000

    If three words sum up the Newlands Cricket Stadium in Cape Town, then it's "location, location, location," as the ground lies beneath the towering Table Mountain and Devil's Peak.

    To a player, this inspiring view could help them knuckle down and graft out a tough innings while, for a spectator, it's more likely to rouse them to grab another Castle Lager before lounging back in the Mediterranean-type climate to enjoy the cricket. Either way, everyone's a winner.

    The slow bowlers union love coming to Cape Town, as Newlands is one of the few South African venues to favour spin over speed.

    Interesting Fact: 

    The land, partly wetland and heavily wooded, was rented to the Western Province Cricket Club in 1887 for £50.

4: Eden Gardens

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    Location: Kolkata, India

    Capacity: 66,349

    It is said a cricketer's education is not complete until he has played in front of a packed Eden Gardens.

    And when over 60,000 passionate Bengalis start making a noise in unison, then the players on the field know about it.

    From its origin in 1864 through the present day, this Indian stronghold provides one of the must-sample atmospheres in the world of sport.

    Whether it's the Kolkata Knight Riders taking the field or MS Dhoni's Indian team, the volume, the firecrackers and even the riot police standing guard around the ground will make it an experience you won't forget.

    Interesting fact:

    The greatest aggregate attendance at a cricket match is about 394,000 people for the Test between India and England at Eden Gardens in January 1982.

3: The Oval

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    Location: Kennington, London, UK

    Capacity: 23,500

    It would be hard to find a better atmosphere in the world of sport than at the Oval during an Ashes Test. Of course, it helps if the sun is shining, but then an English summer is about as consistent as Shahid Afridi.

    With the Thames and many of London's other premium sights just a short walk away, the spectacular pavilion, prominent neighbouring gas tank, and the relatively recent addition of the four-tiered OCS stand make the world's most literally-named ground one of the most iconic.

    The wicket itself used to be renowned as one of the hardest and fastest surfaces in world cricket, but those qualities have diminished a little as of late. However, a tendency to take spin as the match progresses often makes for an enthralling Test.

    Interesting Fact: 

    The Oval hosted the first ever FA Cup Final when the Wanderers beat The Royal Engineers in 1872.

     

     

2: Adelaide Oval

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    Location: Adelaide, South Australia

    Capacity: 38,791

    Sir Don Bradman's home ground is the most picturesque of the Australian Test venues.

    The nearby river flows, the listed-wooden scoreboard creaks, the towering Fig Trees sway and St. Peter's Cathedral looks down imperiously as the action takes place.

    Also, an unusually narrow field of play that suits batsman who like to play square of the wicket, adds to the charm of a ground that has provided some classic Ashes Tests of late.

    Worryingly, the ground is undergoing an extensive AUD535 million redevelopment and it remains to be seen whether the refurbishment will impact its charm.

    Interesting Fact: 

    As well as hosting familiar sports such as cricket, rugby, soccer and of course Aussie Rules, the Oval has also played host to Gridiron (American Football) and even Highland Games.

     

1: Trent Bridge

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    Location: Nottingham, UK

    Capacity: 17,500

    Trent Bridge has steadily risen through the ranks of cricketing venues until arguably it can rise no more.

    A fascinating mix of the old and new. Traditional and contemporary-looking stands. Views of the countryside and city. The largest scoreboard in Europe. And an easy-on-the-eye pavilion.

    On the pitch, it's generally a perfect contest between bat and ball, although Jimmy Anderson may disagree. The English paceman has taken 49 wickets in seven Tests in Nottingham at an average of just over 17.

    With a couple of pubs embedded in the ground itself, watching a Test Match unfold at this sociable atmospheric venue is one of life's pleasures.

    Interesting Fact: 

    Trent Bridge even has a library.

     

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