Edgbaston is preparing for sell-out crowds for all five ICC Men's World Cup games that it hosts in the next six weeks.
Edgbaston will host four World Cup group matches; New Zealand v South Africa (June 19), New Zealand v Pakistan (June 26, England v India (June 30) and India v Bangladesh (July 2); as well as a semi-final on July 11.
The stadium, now firmly established as one of the world’s top cricket stages having excelled as an ICC Champions Trophy venue in 2013 and 2017, is all set to add to its spectacular history in cricket’s biggest one-day tournament.
Edgbaston was a host ground in the inaugural Men’s World Cup in 1975, having two years earlier hosted the inaugural women’s World Cup final, and has been part of every Men’s World Cup held in the UK since.
The famous ground has delivered many memorable World Cup games, including two of the greatest of all: Pakistan v West Indies in 1975 and Australia v South Africa in 1999.
Men’s World Cup cricket arrived at Edgbaston on June 7, 1975, when New Zealand, powered by a Glenn Turner century, thrashed East Africa by 181 runs. Four days later, Pakistan and West Indies arrived in Birmingham, each boasting teams full of world-class players, and they produced a wonderful match.
Half-centuries from Majid Khan, Mushtaq Mohammad and Wasim Raja lifted Pakistan to a challenging 266 from their 60 overs, in reply to which the West Indies appeared dead and buried at 203 for nine. Last pair Deryck Murray, on his home county ground, and Andy Roberts needed to find 67 runs – and they did so to see West Indies home with two balls to spare.
The thriller vividly illustrated what a game of fine margins cricket is – Pakistan did not qualify from the group while West Indies went on to win the tournament.
Fast forward to 1999. For the first time, Edgbaston hosted a World Cup semi-final, Australia v South Africa – and it proved to be one of the greatest matches of them all.
It was a huge game, most of all for Allan Donald. The South Africa fast-bowler was already an Edgbaston legend having played for Warwickshire since 1987 and almost single-handedly bowled them to the County Championship in 1995 with 88 wickets at 15.48 runs apiece. On his beloved adopted home turf, A.D was to be at the heart of a thrilling denouement – and in for heartbreak.
South Africa bowled the Aussies out for 213 but also found the going tough with the bat and slipped to 198 for nine. Last man Donald joined Lance Klusener with 16 required. They inched the total forward so that nine were needed from the last over, to be bowled by Damien Fleming.
Klusener cracked two fours up to take the scores level, but that was not enough for Hansie Cronje’s side. A tie would take Australia through as they had finished higher in the Super Six.
One more run was needed. Two balls later, Klusener squeezed the ball to mid-on and ran but Donald turned to see where the ball had gone. Eventually, way too late, he set off – and was run out by yards. The Aussies in the stands went wild. A true classic.
That was the most recent ICC World Cup match in Birmingham – but the next chapter will begin on June 19, 2019, when the South Africans return to face the Black Caps.