60,000 at a cricket match in Eng­land!

Daily Mail - - Football - Charles Sale

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.

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