Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thirty-six years between Tests

The third Test between India and Sri Lanka in Mumbai was the first played at the Brabourne Stadium since England visited in 1973. This week we've looked at venues that endured years of drought between international matches.

The Brabourne Stadium, built on land reclaimed from the sea and gifted to the Cricket Club of India by Lord Brabourne, was Mumbai's second Test venue after the Bombay Gymkhana ground. However, disputes between the CCI and the Bombay Cricket Association led to the BCA building the Wankhede Stadium, which then became the city's Test venue from the 1970s. The recent India-Sri Lanka Test was only held at the Brabourne because the Wankhede was being renovated for the 2011 World Cup. The gap of 36 years and 294 days between matches at the Brabourne is the largest for any Test venue, including the South African ones that were deprived of Test cricket during the country's isolation because of the apartheid regime.

The longest a South African venue went without a Test, however, was not during their international ban. St George's Park in Port Elizabeth hosted the first Test to be played outside England and Australia in 1889 and it staged two more matches before Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town took precedence over it. St George's Park went 35 years without a Test between 1914 and 1949, after which it held matches on a regular basis. It was also the venue of the last Test South Africa played before their isolation in 1970.

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