When New Zealand visit Edgbaston to face England in Test combat in June, they know they will be up against much more than 11 Englishmen.
The Black Caps, ranked the Number One Test nation in the world, will be venturing into a venue which has long been England’s favourite home ground. And the noise, atmosphere, humour and fervour of the Edgbaston crowds has long been a 12th – a very influential 12th – player in the England team in Birmingham.
Former England spinner Graeme Swann played in massive stadia all round the world and sampled all the biggest atmospheres, but regards Edgbaston as something special.
“Edgbaston, with the Hollies Stand in full voice, is just amazing,” he said. “The atmosphere generated is unique. It’s the closest you get as a professional cricketer to knowing what it’s like to be a professional footballer.”Graeme Swann
And as many other England legends have testified, to have that full voice behind you can lift you to new heights. Would that sensational victory in the 2005 Ashes Test – the match that tilted the Ashes axis for years to come – have been achieved at any other ground?
When you think of Edgbaston, you immediately think of Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Michael Kasprowicz and Billy Bowden,” wrote Aussie cricket journo Dean Bilton. “You think of the noise created when Geraint Jones held on to that defining catch, or when Flintoff dismissed Ricky Ponting earlier in the Test. Most importantly, you think of the place the 2005 series turned from a run of the mill Australian domination and became something so much more spectacular.”
That Edgbaston effect lifts England and intimidates the opposition. “The Edgbaston crowd is up there with the loudest I can remember,” says former England captain Sir Alastair Cook.
“In the 2015 Ashes series, even the guys who had played a fair bit of cricket there were looking at each other and realising how special it was.”Sir Alastair Cook
Edgbaston is where history is made and, come June, New Zealand will be aiming to record some of their own by toppling England for the first time in the Second City. Their Test record at Edgbaston, played four lost four.
So far, that Edgbaston effect has held sway though, top of the world rankings, the Blacks Caps will feel this could be their year.
But Bears legend Dennis Amiss can vouch that the Edgbaston effect is a mighty force.
“The ground has a special, unique atmosphere and it lifts you as a player,” he said. “When players get that sort of backing is does make a difference and that’s why England have got a great record at the ground.”
Enter the Ballot: England v New Zealand Test
Enter the ballot before 5pm on Thursday 11 February for a chance to secure tickets for the LV= Insurance Test between England and New Zealand at Edgbaston, starting on Thursday 10 June.
Demand is expected to be high, so enter the ballot today for the best chance to get tickets.