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Update Southampton frontrunner to host WTC final
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Southampton has emerged as a potential venue for the World Test Championship (WTC) final. On the day when the contestants for the one-off match were identified, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said the venue has not yet been finalised but Cricbuzzhas information that the world body, along with host board, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), has checked the preparedness of Ageas Bowl, the home ground of Hampshire County Cricket Club.

The World Test Championship final will be held from June 18 to 22. India and New Zealand have qualified to play in the pinnacle clash.

Lord's Cricket Ground in London, otherwise a favourite for the big ticket finals, was thought to be in contention along with Old Trafford in Manchester and Edgbaston in Birmingham but Cricbuzzhas been told that Southampton is the front runner now, because of the facilities at the ground.

With a five star hotel attached to the stadium, Southampton provides a lot of logistical and operational convenience to the organisers in these times of lockdown and bio-secure protocols. Last summer when the pandemic was its peak, Southampton had hosted England's matches against West Indies and Pakistan.

"I can't give much information apart from the fact that there has been discussion about it," confirmed Southampton cricket boss Rod Bransgrove about an approach to stage the final at the Ageas Bowl. "I am the chairman of Southampton and I can say we have been asked to stage it and also inquired if Southampton is available. I don't know if anything has been finally decided as yet," Bransgrove said.

There has been a talk for some time that the Lord's is out of the race and a spokesman for the Marylebone Cricket Club, which runs the ground, remained non-committal. "The MCC has been working with the ICC and the ECB in relation to planning for the World Test Championship Final. As yet, no definitive decision has been taken in relation to the location of the final. This will be announced by the ICC in due course," the spokesman for the MCC told Cricbuzz. The ECB did not respond to a mail.

The ICC said an announcement will be made soon. Along with the venue, the world body is also expected to come up with the playing conditions for the maiden final for which, a reserve day (June 23) has been kept, a first.

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