Test matches at Edgbaston have delivered many a momentous match and performance over the years.

Another fantastic occasion will follow next summer when South Africa face England in Birmingham over five days starting on Thursday August 25th.

And Graeme Smith and Ian Bell, two Test legends who have been part of many big matches at Edgbaston, know their successors in the two teams next summer have a very special atmosphere to look forward to.

Edgbaston invariably brings the best out of England (it is their favourite home ground) but it also inspired Smith to great heights with the bat as South Africa captain. In the Birmingham Test of 2003, he batted for nine hours to piled up 277 out of his side’s total of 594 for five declared.

England fought back hard to draw that game but when the Proteas returned to Edgbaston on Test duty five years later, Smith played another magnificent innings, this time to see his side to victory.

Chasing an awkward target of 280, Smith saw partners come and go early on as his side struggled to 93 for four. But the captain stayed strong to steer his side to a five-wicket win with a superb unbeaten 154 (246 balls, 17 fours).

It was an innings of immense skill and also concentration amid what is commonly recognised as one of the most pulsating atmospheres in world cricket.

“I always enjoyed playing at Edgbaston because of the great atmosphere and the banter with the crowd. I remember one time I was batting there and we lost a wicket at the other end and the whole Hollies Stand was on their feet singing ‘cheerio, cheerio, cheerio’ to the batsman.

“I was just standing out there looking at the scene and thinking, ‘I’m part of something special here.'”

Ian Bell knows better than most what a special venue it is. And the  Warwickshire and England legend expects a terrific match when Joe Root’s side faces South Africa next August.

“Graeme Smith played incredibly well to win that 2008 Test for them and it was a really good Test match, like so many at Edgbaston are,” he said. “It ebbed and flowed. South Africa never lie down – they always come back fighting. 

“Looking back, South Africa were one of the better teams I played throughout my career. You could go right through their eleven and it was a world class side – especially their batting unit.

“They are physically and mentally tough competitors and are always a really tough challenge home and away. It is all set up for a great match at Edgbaston next year.”

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Edgbaston will host up to six days of England cricket with an LV= Insurance Test Match against South Africa (25-29 August) and an ODI against India (9 July).

The venue will also host the biggest day in domestic cricket, Vitality Blast Finals Day (16 July).

Ballot closes at 5pm on Friday 8 October.

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