West Ham United's London Stadium home may well be the venue for the biggest crowd in England to attend a cricket match in modern history, the English Cricket Board is hopeful of staging two separate matches at the former Olympic Stadium during the next ICC World Cup which is due to take place in England and Wales in 2019. One of the fixtures will feature England and could be watched by a crowd of 66,000, more than double the capacity of Lord’s.
Negotiations are yet to be completed, but when asked about the possibility, the chief executive of the ECB, Tom Harrison, said: “It would be an amazing statement, 60,000 people in a ground in the UK watching World Cup cricket, it’s making a statement about what cricket means in this country.”
All Stars Cricket hopes to attract upwards of 50,000 children between the ages of five and eight each summer through an eight-week scheme run by local cricket clubs and funded by the ECB. The money comes as part of a £4m uplift in funding to increase participation in the sport. The tournament would begin at the same time as the ECB’s TV rights deal with Sky comes to an end, with some speculation suggesting it could be broadcast on terrestrial TV.
Should the deal go ahead, and there is no reason to assume it won't, another lucrative revenue stream will have been opened and money will get paid in to the public purse. There has been a massive amount of negative publicity aimed at West Ham with regards to the cost of converting the wonderful but incredibly poorly conceived Olympic Stadium facility, but Cricket, Rugby and American Football can all be staged now most of the costly conversion works have been carried out. There is still the issue of the 'retractable' seating, however progress has been made on arranging for the installation of retractable seating that actually works! This essential facility is the Achilles heal of the Stadium at the moment and with hindsight was a fiscal accident waiting to happen, but no one thought the conversion was going to be a simple matter.
Given that the London Stadium will probably be hosting 'accessible' cricket in the near future, perhaps London's cricket loving mayor, Sadiq Khan, might tone down his recent witch hunt about the funding of the project and place his inquiries directly with those who were really responsible for the mess, starting with Lord Coe! - Ed