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Old Trafford Cricket Ground, usually referred to as Old Trafford, is a cricket ground situated on Talbot Road in Old Traffordmarker. It has been the home of Lancashire County Cricket Club since its foundation in 1864, although it was the ground of Manchester Cricket Club from 1856. International Test matches have been played there since 1884.

Early history

The site was first used as a cricket ground in 1857, when the Manchester Cricket Club moved onto the meadows of the de Trafford estate. Despite the construction of a large pavilion (for the amateurs – the professionals used a shed at the opposite end of the ground), Old Trafford's first years were rocky: accessible only along a footpath from the Old Trafford station, the ground was situated out in the country, and games only attracted small crowds; it was not until the close Roses match of 1875 that significant numbers attended a game. When W.G. Grace brought Gloucestershire in 1878, Old Trafford saw 28,000 spectators over three days, and this provoked improvements to access and facilities.

In 1884, Old Trafford became the second ground, after The Ovalmarker, to stage test cricket – with the first day being lost to rain, England drew with Australia. Expansion of the ground followed over the next decade, with the decision being taken to construct a new pavilion in 1894.

The ground was purchased outright from the de Traffords in 1898, for £24,372, as crowds increased: over 50,000 spectators attended the 1899 test match.

Crowds fell through the early 20th Century, and the ground was closed during the First World War; however, in the conflict's aftermath, Old Trafford's reputation as a cricketing arena again rose, with crowd numbers reaching new heights. Investment followed throughout the inter-war period, and during this time, Lancashire experienced their most successful run to date, gaining four Championship titles in five years.

During the Second World War, Old Trafford was used as a transit camp for troops returning from Dunkirk, and as a supply depot. In December 1940, the ground was hit by bombs, damaging or destroying several stands; the field also suffered craters. Despite this damage – and the failure of an appeal to raise funds for repairs – cricket resumed promptly after the war, with German PoWs being paid a small wage to prepare the ground. The 'Victory Test' between England and Australia of August 1945 proved to be extremely popular, with 76,463 seeing it over three days.

Differences of opinion between the club's committee and players led to a bad run of form in the 1950s and early 1960s; this consequently saw gate money drop, and a lack of investment. After 1964, however, the situation was reversed, and 1969 saw the first Indoor Cricket Centre opened.

Following Lancashire's reign as One Day champions in the 1970s, a programme of renovation and replacement was initiated in 1981. This changed the face of the ground to the extent that, now, only the Pavilion “is recognisable to a visitor who last watched or played a game in, say, the early 1980s”.

The ground

The cricket ground is near the Old Traffordmarker football stadium (a five minute walk away down Warwick Road and Sir Matt Busby Way), in the borough of Traffordmarker in Greater Manchestermarker, approximately two miles south west of Manchester city centre. Its capacity is 22,000 for Test matches, for which temporary stands are erected, and 15,000 for other matches. Since 1884, it has hosted 73 Tests, the third highest number in England, behind Lord'smarker and The Ovalmarker.

The two ends of the ground are the Stretford End to the west and the Brian Statham End (formerly the Warwick Road End) to the east, renamed in honour of the former Lancashire and England player. The section of Warwick Road behind this end is also called Brian Statham Way. Immediately abutting the ground to the south-east is the Old Trafford Metrolink station.

The Pavilion

The Pavilion, 3/8/2009
The three-tiered Victorian members' pavilion – the last part of the ground dating from that era – was built in 1895 for £10,000. Hit by a bomb in 1940 – which destroyed the Members' Dining Room and groundsman's quarters – most of the pavilion was rebuilt. £1 million was spent on a new roof after it began to leak in 2003.

The Pavilion's position is noteworthy in that it currently sits parallel to the wickets, rather than behind them. This presents the members with one of the worst viewing angles possible, so that many choose to forsake the building, to sit at either of the ground's Ends.

It contains batting and bowling Honours Boards, unveiled during the 2004 test match.

Stands

Around 4/5 of Old Trafford's circumference is bordered by stands, with all single-tiered except the Cyril Washbrook-Brian Statham Stand, a two-tiered cantilever structure built in 1993; this faces the Pavilion, parallel to the wicket, and is consequently only open during better-attended games. The remaining 1/5 of the perimeter lost its stands in 1999, creating a position for temporary stands that can increase the ground's overall capacity. This empty area can also accommodate a stage, allowing Old Trafford to be used as a musical arena.

The Old Trafford Lodge, 3/8/2009

The Old Trafford Lodge

In 1999, the Old Trafford Lodge was opened, bringing to fruition a concept from 1981. The hotel has 68 rooms, 36 of which command unobstructed views of the playing surface* – an unusual use of space, but one which has proved to be extremely successful, generating income all year round.

Other Buildings

Old Trafford is also unusual in that there are two media stands, at opposite ends of the ground. The press writers, until 1984, used a small box described by Derek Hodgson as “a wart on the face of Venus”; this was replaced by the Neville Cardus Gallery, on top of the Red Rose Suite at the Brian Statham End. Their television and radio counterparts, meanwhile, operate in a television studio and commentary boxes at the Stretford Lane End – facilities which are, again, perched on hospitality boxes.

Cricket Practice School

The idea of an indoor school was born in 1951, when nets were strung up in the Members' Dining Room in the pavilion. A permanent facility was built in 1969, and replaced in 1997. The current building stands to the north-east of the pitch, just behind the area used for temporary stands; it contains five 60 metre lanes on various surfaces, several conference rooms, and a large shop.

Other Notable Features

Very unusually in a test match ground, the Old Trafford wickets are laid along an East-West axis. This has often caused problems for batsmen at the Brian Statham End as the sun sets.

Before Cardiff was used as a test match ground in July 2009, Old Trafford was seen as the wettest test ground in the country. Manchester, being to the west of the Pennines, receives much rain brought in from the Atlantic by the prevailing westerly breezes; Old Trafford is the only ground in England where a test match has been abandoned without a ball being bowled – and this has happened here twice. Often, after heavy rainfall, the pitch remained waterlogged, hindering play – and it was to prevent this that Lancashire, in 2008, laid new drains. Work began on 23 August, with the outfield being lifted and presented to fans. The ground was closed for the rest of the season, with Lancashire's remaining home games transferred to its outgrounds at Blackpoolmarker and Liverpoolmarker, and the work was finished by November 2008.

Partly because of this rainfall, Lancashire were quick to acquire a Hover Cover – a cover acting on the hovercraft principle, allowing it to be moved quickly and easily, and the ground to be kept aerated while dry. This made its appearance for the 2007 season, and was the second in England, after a similar cover acquired for Lord's.

Notable moments at Old Trafford

  • 1902 - The Australian Victor Trumper hit a hundred before lunch on the first day; Australia went on to win the Test by 3 runs - the third closest Test result in history.


  • 1909 - Frank Laver, the Australian player/manager, took 8-31 in the drawn Test.


  • 1930 - 1948 - Donald Bradman played three Tests at Old Trafford, scoring just 81 runs at 27.00 - his innings being 14 (1930), 30 (1934) and 7 and 30* (1948). He told Bill Frindall that the light was always so bad that he couldn't see the ball.


  • 1938 - The second abandoned test, due to rain. In a desperate effort to ensure play, the groundstaff move the turf from the practice pitch to the square - a unique attempt.


  • 1956 - Jim Laker became the first person to take all 10 wickets in a Test match innings, achieving figures of 10 for 53 in the fourth Test against Australia (the only other bowler to take all 10 wickets is Anil Kumble of India in 1999). Having also taken 9 for 37 in the first innings, Laker ended the match with record figures of 19 for 90, which remain unmatched to this day.


  • 1961 - With England firmly in control going into the fourth day, Richie Benaud refused to be beaten, and took 6-70 to win Australia the game. The great Lancashire and England player Brian Statham, also took his only test 'five for' on his home ground.


  • 1963 - On 1st May, the first ever one day cricket match took place at Old Trafford, as the Gillette Cup was launched. Lancashire played and beat Leicestershire in a preliminary knock-out game, as 16th and 17th finishers in the Championship the previous year, to decide who would fill the 16th spot in the one-day competition.


  • 1971 - The Gillette Cup semi-final between Lancashire and Gloucestershire was played in near-darkness. With the time approaching 8.45 pm on July 28th and 25 runs still needed from the five remaining overs, David Hughes walked out to bat. Hughes, somehow seeing well enough, hit 24 off a single over and set up a notable Lancashire victory.


  • 1981 - Ian Botham hit 118, including six sixes (the second greatest number in an Ashes innings), which he himself calls "one of the three innings I would like to tell my grandchildren about".


  • 1984 - Sir Vivian Richards scored his notable 189 not out for the West Indies in the 1st one-day international for the Texaco Trophy against England. Richards added 106 runs for the last wicket - an unbroken stand to which Michael Holding contributed 12 runs. Richards hammered 21 fours and 5 sixes. When Holding joined Sir Viv at the crease, the West Indies were in a parlous position at 166 for 9, of which Sir Viv had made 98.


  • 1990 - Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test hundred at the age of 18 to help India draw the Test.






  • 2005 - The third Test of the Ashes series ended in a nailbiting draw, with thousands of fans shut out of the ground on the final day as tickets were sold out.


Redevelopment 2003-2013

In 2003, it was suggested that Lancashire CCC should sell Old Trafford, and move to a new purpose-built stadium in East Manchester. After consultation, this plan was rejected in favour of upgrading the current ground. Lancashire CCC, together with a coalition of businesses, plan to make the cricket ground the centre of an anticipated development, in a mixed-use scheme involving business, residential, retail, hotel and leisure facilities.

The area now under phase 1 of redevelopment, 15/8/2008
Further plans were released in September 2008, and have since been clarified. The first phases of work should be completed by September 2012, in time for the 2013 Ashes series; the stadium will be closed throughout 2011, and play transferred to smaller grounds around Lancashire.

'The Point', Old Trafford, 3/8/2009
Work began with the demolition of the County Suite, Tyldesley Suite, 'K' and 'L' Stands and the scoreboard early in 2009, necessitating the closure of much of the Stretford End for the 2009 season. These are currently being replaced by a £12 million conference centre, 'The Point', overshadowing new seating to the right of the pavilion. This will be, at 1000 seats, one of the largest conference facilities in the North West, and is designed to host differing functions - for instance conferences and balls - to provide a year-round income. Completion of The Point, the new stand in its shadow, and a new scoreboard and permanent video screen is planned for April 2010.

Permanent floodlights will be installed in the near future, replacing the temporary crane-based lights that are rented for day/night games at Old Trafford.

In August 2009, major work took place at Old Trafford Metrolink station, as part of the programme to upgrade and extend Manchester's Metrolink system, in order to improve access to both cricket and football grounds.

Phase 2, scheduled to begin in September 2010, will involve reorientating the wickets to run North-South, instead of East-West; this will prevent the low evening sun interfering with matches, and increase the number of available wickets by five, to sixteen. At the same time, a new "Players, Media and Education" Pavilion will be built on the site of the Washbrook-Statham stand; members will continue to use the present Pavilion, which will have its present sloped roof replaced with two modern glass storeys. The ground will be closed throughout 2011 to allow this work.

Further phases are envisaged, involving the construction of two buildings, similar in design to The Point, to the left (or east) of the current pavilion; their uses and construction dates have not yet been released, but it seems logical to assume that at least one of these would replace the Old Trafford Lodge, which according to current imagery stands on the site for one of the new structures. Following the award of test matches to Old Trafford in 2010, 2014 and 2015, and the possibility of others being awarded in 2013 and 2016 it will be necessary to work around these dates in arranging the schedule for future building work.

Uses

Cricket

The ground is used heavily throughout the summer by Lancashire County Cricket Club, who from April to September usually play all but two of their home games on the ground. Until 2008, Old Trafford commonly hosted a test match each year; due to concerns over the state of the stadium no test matches were scheduled until at least 2013, giving Lancashire CCC the chance to implement redevelopment. However, in 2009 one of the 2010 Bangladesh tests was transferred to Old Trafford. One Day Internationals and International Twenty20s continue to be hosted most years.

Musical Venue

The ground is occasionally used as a venue for large-scale concerts with a maximum capacity of 50,000 (increasing to 65,000 after redevelopment).

Hometown band Oasis played at the ground in 2002. Richard Ashcroft performed a homecoming gig, supported by Razorlight, on 17 June 2006. The following day, Foo Fighters played with support from The Strokes, Angels & Airwaves, The Subways and Eagles of Death Metal. On the 28-29 July 2007, Arctic Monkeys hosted and headlined a "mini-festival" on the ground, supported by Supergrass, The Coral, The Parrots and Amy Winehouse. It was also the venue for the Move Festival which took place between 2002 and 2004; artists who appeared over the three years included Green Day, David Bowie, R.E.M., New Order and Morrissey. The ground also hosted Radiohead on 29 June 2008 as part of their world tour. R.E.M. played the venue again on 24 August 2008 as part of their 'Accelerate' tour. Take That played five homecoming shows at the stadium in June 2009, in front of 50,000 each night, with The Script as their supporting acts. Coldplay have announced that they will be playing there in September 2009. Green Day have also announced that they will be returning to the venue in June 2010. Muse will be playing there on 4 September 2010.

Other

The Old Trafford Lodge is open all year round, acting as a 'normal' hotel when cricket isn't being played. Corporate hospitality is also available throughout the year – and The Point will be able to host large conferences from September 2010. Lancashire CCC also make a satisfactory profit by hiring out their large car parks, situated to the north and west of the ground – especially to fans watching football at the 'other' Old Trafford.

Notes

References



See also



External links






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