27 Jan

The ICC have delayed announcing the venue for June's World Test Championship final because they continue to hold out for Lord's. 

Due to its prestige, the home of cricket remains the governing body's preferred ground to host the six-day match from June 18, an ICC spokesperson confirmed to Sportsmail on Tuesday (26 January), but uncertainty over the Covid situation in the UK by the summer is proving problematic. 

On the advice of the ECB - who will run the match as the home board - the Ageas Bowl in Southampton will be used if a bio-secure environment is deemed necessary, as it was for half of England's home international schedule in 2020. 

Hampshire CCC's headquarters is viewed as the best ground for creating the 'very secure bubble' the ICC would require in making participating teams feel safe, if the country remains in lockdown or is in high-tier restrictions in the build-up. 

It houses an on-site hotel, gyms, a nursery ground in addition to practice nets and has an adjoining golf course - for exercise as well as leisure. 

The ICC say a situation ongoing since before Christmas remains fluid and no deadline has been set, although earlier this month the ECB announced a two-match Test series against New Zealand for early June, for which tickets are being sold. 

England must win by a score line of 3-0 or greater in India next month to guarantee their place in the showpiece match, but could also qualify via a smaller victory margin in the event of South Africa defeating Australia in the WTC's unconfirmed final series.   

John Stephenson 


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