Lord’s has long been pencilled in to host the WTC final, which is run by the International Cricket Council (ICC), in 2023 and 2025, but the MCC’s commercial arrangements appear to have provided a snag.
ICC events require a “naked stadium” – ie, with no advertising in the arena – but the MCC’s commercial agreements are based on hosting two Tests in the summer.
While the ICC say a decision has yet to be made, Surrey are said to be on the verge of stepping in for the WTC final. Their CEO, Steve Elworthy, has a long track record of running ICC events, including the 2019 World Cup, from his previous job.
England will not be in the World Test Championship final, with Australia, South Africa and India the likeliest to make it. The first edition of the tournament saw New Zealand beat India in 2021 at the Ageas Bowl, a venue used because a biosecure bubble was required.
That is likely to mean that Lord’s hosts England’s four-day Test against Ireland in June, which precedes the Ashes in July.
With Trent Bridge set to host England Women’s Test in the Ashes, the Ageas Bowl had been expected to host the Ireland fixture. But Lord’s would be likely to step in if they did not have the World Test Championship.
The Ireland Test is set to take place from 1-4 June, with the WTC final a five-day match with an additional reserve day the following week.
The Ashes are then set to begin on June 16 at Edgbaston, with the series following the same sequence as 2019’s draw: Lord’s, Headingley, Old Trafford, The Oval.
The series is slated to finish on the final day of July, which has sparked fury in some quarters that there is no Test cricket in August. Richard Thompson, the new chair of the ECB, said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph today that this was a one-off. “I don’t think it will happen again,” he said.
London’s Test grounds face extremely busy summers next year, with each set to host two Tests, a Women’s Ashes T20 and a men’s white-ball international in September, as well as The Hundred in August – before the counties they host even come into the equation.