60,000 at a cricket match in England!
ENGLAND are set to play in front of the biggest crowd to watch a cricket match in this country when the World Cup is staged here in 2019.
The London Stadium is due to be one of 12 venues hosting 48 games — with two matches expected to be staged in Stratford, including one England fixture in front of a sell-out, 60,000 crowd. That will make it by far cricket’s top UK attendance, with the biggest dedicated cricket ground Lord’s having a capacity of 30,000.
Steve Elworthy, managing director of the 2019 World Cup, has travelled to New Zealand to study the best technology for drop-in cricket pitches that will be incorporated for Stratford.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: ‘It would be an amazing statement to have 60,000 people in a ground in the UK watching World Cup cricket. The London Stadium has the right dimensions. There are not a lot of other stadiums that have the capacity to fit minimum boundaries in.’
The London Stadium is not being considered for the World Cup opening ceremony — despite its unbeatable experience of staging the 2012 Olympics curtain-raiser — because of the drop-in pitch complications. But certainly World Cup organisers will want an improvement on the opening to the 1999 World Cup at Lord’s — regarded as one of the worst sporting ceremonies ever — when lingering firework smoke obscured the crowd’s view of the shambolic proceedings.
The second game at the Olympic Stadium would probably be an India versus Pakistan match, if the draw allows, to take full advantage of the big Asian population in east London. Cricket in Stratford — with the running track covered and the retractable seats removed — would also allow the stadium to showcase its potential as a multi-sport venue. The camera positions used for athletics would work equally well for cricket.
And the promise of cricket following on from the World Athletics Championships in August is also going to help sell an elusive naming rights deal.