Old Trafford in Manchester is much more than merely a sports arena. Yes, it may be home to the illustrious Manchester United, and football fans often refer to it as the "Theatre of Dreams". But, do you know, though, that Manchester also has a cricket fan's theatre of dreams. The Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Stadium in Manchester, as it is called for sponsorship reasons, is one of England's oldest and most famous grounds for the sport.
Built in 1857, now Home to Lancashire County or LCC, this ground is more than just another stadium. It is a storied location where some of the most memorable contests in the sport’s history have taken place. It is also the second largest cricket ground in England, only behind the Lord’s.
The First Ashes:
This venue is a genuine sporting gem that is rich in tradition and history. The Old Trafford Cricket stadium held its first Ashes in 1884, one of the most historic events in English sports. The Ashes have become one of sports highest-value trophies and the most hotly contested rivalries in the game, thanks in large part to this stadium in Manchester.
Shane Warne’s iconic “Ball of the Century“ to dismiss Mike Gatting was bowled at this stadium. The ball was so perfect that it pitched outside leg, bowling over the wicket, spun out of the rough and clipped the top of Gatting's off-stump, leaving the English batsman stunned and the world in awe.
The stadium also marked the start of the God, Sachin Tendulkar's, legendary career. In 1990, as a 17 year old, he scored his first of 100 centuries in international cricket at this venue.
You might not know this but, Jim Laker achieved the very first 10 wicket haul in an innings in the sport's history versus Australia at this very venue in the year 1956.
Acknowledging the Greats:
The stadium boasts two ends named after two legendary players: the James Anderson and the Brian Statham. James Anderson has arguably been one of the greatest test match bowlers of all time, and with his continuous top class performance he may even be considered the best fast bowler of all time by many. To honor his achievements, the Pavilion End was renamed the Jimmy Anderson End.
The southern end is the Brian Statham End, named in honor of the former Lancashire and England player. The red building at this Statham (south) end is the Media & Players Center.
The Old Trafford Cricket Ground pitch report suggests that the pitch is favorable for batting, with some help for the spinners. The surface tends to flatten out as the game goes on, making it simpler for batsmen to score runs even though the ball swings more frequently in the early innings.
In 2003, plans to sell and move to a new stadium were rejected. Instead, Lancashire CCC teamed up with businesses to develop a 750,000-square-foot mixed-use scheme around the cricket ground. The first phase of redevelopment included new drains, the destruction of stands, and a new facility called "The Point". The wickets were also turned to face north-south to prevent the evening sun from affecting matches. After legal opposition, work began in 2011 to install floodlights, a new video screen, and two-tiered cantilever stands. The Pavilion was renovated with a modern glass design, and a Hilton Garden Inn hotel was built in 2017.
With such a rich history and an arena where legends like James Anderson and Sachin Tendulkar have played, Old Trafford Cricket Ground has become immortal in the history of the sport. Some of the most iconic moments and celebrations have happened at this very stadium. Recent renovations and upgrades have made the stadium a top tier venue for the largest athletic events. It continues to grace the cricketing world with its presence and is a prideful representation of Manchester’s athletic past.