Brian Lara's highest score in first-class cricket: 501 not out in 1994. The World Cup tie between South Africa and Australia, 1999. England's series-levelling two-run win against Australia in the second Ashes Test in 2005. Each of these is a landmark in the annals of cricket, but all three have one thing in common — the Edgbaston cricket ground.
Host to many memorable moments in the game, the stadium, built in 1882, will witness England's 1,000th Test match when the host squares off against India in the first Test starting August 1. Edgbaston is home to county club Warwickshire and its chief executive Neil Snowball, in a chat with Sportstar , spoke about events that are underway to mark a special moment in English cricket.
"We've been working with the England and Wales Cricket Board, and the media to commemorate the occasion," Neil said. "The BBC is running an online poll for people to vote for what they think is the greatest of the 1,000 Test matches that England has played. It'll be announced just before the Birmingham Test.
"There's also a presentation for the ICC and the ECB to mark the special day. We've also had a competition for the 1000th person to buy the ticket. So, there's a lot of things going on in the build-up to the match," he added.
"The ECB is also running an online poll for people to vote for their best-ever England men's Test XI. The result will be announced at the first Test match.
"Hopefully, some of those (those in the list picked by people) players will be there. We're also hoping that a lot of former Indian greats, who now work with the media, will be present and we can invite them into the committee room and celebrate India and England Test cricket, both present and past," he continued.
Tickets for sale
Tickets for the first Test at the 24,803-capacity Edgbaston went up for sale in January. "Day three, a Friday, is sold out, but tickets are still available for day one and day two. They are priced at £29 (Rs. 2,608) and available on Edgbaston.com ," Neil said.
"The Test match is starting on a Wednesday instead of a usual Thursday start - in which case, the first three days are usually sold out - but it also means that seats are still available for fans who want to watch the first day's play on August 1," Neil explained.
A good pitch
India's trouble against quality pace on fire-spitting greens is well-documented. India last played a Test at Edgbaston in 2011 and it wasn't a memorable outing for the team. England handed the visitor a humiliating inning and 242-run defeat. Pacers Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Tim Bresnan took 17 of the 20 Indian wickets in the match.
Broad and Anderson will lead the English pace battery against India again in the five-Test series. Neil reckons the pitch will have something in it for both batsmen and bowlers. "I haven't actually been up there much this week. I haven't spoken to the groundsman, but it won't be anything out of the ordinary," he noted.
The Warwickshire chief executive also shared his views on the conditions. Temperatures have reached 35 degrees in some places in south-east England. According to Neil, the UK heat wave has prompted the Edgbaston groundsman to put a lot of water on the outfield to keep it nice and green. "The forecast for the next week is good. That said, there's always a risk of showers."
India last played a five-Test series in England in 2014 when the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side came from behind to register a famous win at Lord's, ending a 28-year wait. But England walked away with the spoils, winning the series 3-1.
Neil expects the coming series to be more closely fought. "It is a big series. The rivalry with India is huge and I think the recent ODI series was very competitive, as were the international T20s. There's a lot to fight for. India would obviously want to do better than last time. I'm sure with (Virat) Kohli as captain, they'll be wanting to win the series," he said.