England will face New Zealand in front of around 17,000 fans for the Second Test at Edgbaston next month as it is set to be included in the Government’s second round of trials for the return of crowds.
The First Test at Lord’s, which starts a week tomorrow, will be played in line with current Government regulations - meaning a capacity of around 25 per cent (or 7,000 people).
But the match the following week in Birmingham, which begins on Thursday, June 10, is on course to be selected as part of the second round of trials. The Government is expected to confirm which events will form part of phase two in the next few days.
It is understood there will be approximately 17,000 people allowed into the venue, which would represent around 70 per cent of capacity.
Warwickshire CCC said in a post on their website recently that the Club is still talking to Government about using the Test as a second stage pilot event which may mean that the capacity can be increased to give more ticket holders the opportunity to attend”. They confirmed that once they had received this information news would be distributed to ticket holders on “how tickets will be allocated and any subsequent plans regarding refunds or credits”.
When full, the ground can hold approximately 25,000 people and it has become a self-styled fortress and favoured venue of England players. It is also the home of T20 Finals Day - a famously raucous event.
England’s men and women played their entire summer in 2020 behind closed doors, so crowds have not watched the national teams play at home since the epic 2019 season, when England’s men won a home World Cup and drew a memorable Ashes series, which included Ben Stokes’ Headingley heist.
Fans returned to County Championship matches this week, with as many as 4,000 allowed into the Kia Oval for a soggy draw between Surrey and Middlesex.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said in an interview with the Evening Standard on Tuesday that the first round of trial events for the return of crowds – across sport, the arts and nightlife – had been “a real success”, and that there would be a second round.
The results and this news will raise hopes among fans and industry organisers that venues could be back to full capacity by mid-summer.
England’s group games at Euro 2020 are also in contention to be part of the second phase of trials, with hopes of significantly increased attendances at Wembley in time for the knockout stages.