With England’s handsome 135-run victory against Australia in the fifth Ashes test at the Oval a phenomenal few months of cricket has come to an end.
2019 will surely go down as one of the finest summers in English cricketing history as Trevor Bayliss’ men won a World Cup on home soil and then ensured the Aussies’ 22-year wait for a test series win in this country continued.
Every single ground involved over the last few months has played its part but perhaps none more so than Edgbaston and Lords.
The two historic venues hosted famous wins in the latter stages of the World Cup and then provided the stage for two enthralling Ashes tests.
For those lucky enough to visit both this summer, they will have noticed that the pair provided very different atmospheres, which is a reflection of the fact they have come to represent different sides of the game.
Lord’s is one of the most iconic venues in world sport and ‘The Home of Cricket’. The first game was played on the current ground over 200 years ago and it is steeped in history.
The London venue is a reflection of the traditional side of the game and echoes those sensibilities. It is known for its traditions, such as the long room, the strict dress code, ringing the bell, its respectful atmosphere, and of course the famous honours board.
There must be something about playing at ‘The Home of Cricket’ that inspires travelling teams because England’s record at Lord’s is not the best.
If test cricket at Lords is one of the sport’s great sights, then the Barmy Army at Edgbaston is surely one of its great atmospheres.
Lord’s may be ‘The Home of Cricket’, but Edgbaston is surely the England team’s spiritual home. It has developed into one of their favourite hunting grounds in recent years and has become known as ‘Fortress Edgbaston’.
Prior to the loss in the opening Ashes test, England had not lost a test match at Edgbaston for more than 10 years, were undefeated in their last 11 matches against any side there, and had not lost to Australia there in any format since 2001…including a comprehensive World Cup semi-final victory earlier this summer.
Much of that can be put down to the raucous atmosphere the Barmy Army create there, particularly in the electric Eric Hollies Stand.
Lord’s is reflective of the traditional side of the game and watching England there is something of a pilgrimage to the sport, but if you’re looking for all-out fun and enjoyment Edgbaston represents cricket in the modern era, with its loud crowds, fancy dress, and party atmosphere.
The grounds are a representation of the two alternate sides of the modern game and, while they grow more similar as they modernise, their differences should be celebrated.