For the second consecutive time, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has failed to schedule the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) at Lord’s, and not for their lack of trying.
On Wednesday, it was announced that Lord’s will host the pinnacle of the Test championship match only in the third edition, in 2025. “The World Test Championship 2023 Final will be hosted by The Oval in June 2023 while the 2025 Final will be played at Lord’s.
“The two venues in London will succeed Southampton, which hosted the inaugural final between New Zealand and India in 2021. New Zealand emerged as the victors in the first edition of the World Test Championship,” the ICC said in a statement.
The statement is a contradiction to what the ICC had put out immediately after its annual conference in Birmingham in July. “The IBC Board approved Lord’s Cricket Ground as the host for the ICC World Test Championship Finals in 2023 and 2025,” the world body had stated through an official ICC media release on July 26.
It is anybody’s guess whether the ICC jumped the gun or if there was a miscommunication with England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)/Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). What matters is that the plan hasn’t realized.
Cricbuzz learns that Lord’s could not be made available to the ICC for commercial reasons. The MCC, which runs the Lord’s, has commitments to its sponsors and it could not provide a clean stadium which the ICC needed for its own set of sponsors for the WTC final. Eventually, it had to move the 2023 game to The Oval.
“The ECB has its own existing agreements that the ICC could not have overlooked its commitments. At the same time the ICC needed a clean stadium. It was very challenging for both. The ECB suggested The Oval, followed by the Lord’s which was acceptable to all,” said a source in the know of the latest arrangements.
The exact dates of the 2023 final have not been announced but it is almost certain that the game will be in June 2023, around the time Lord’s is scheduled to host a Test against Ireland, from June 1 to 4, and the second Ashes Test, from June 28 to July 2. Normally, to host an ICC event the ground has to be let out to the organisers at least one month in advance but a one-off event like WTC final can be done with 10 days’ time.
When contacted, MCC said, “We can also confirm that Lord’s has been working with the International Cricket Council and ECB in relation to planning for the next two cycles of the World Test Championship Final. In a parallel fixture announcement, the ICC today confirmed that Lord’s will host the 2025 World Test Championship Final, whilst the 2023 final will be staged at The Oval.”