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Old Trafford, Manchester
[ ground guide ]

Old Trafford has its critics but is, in fact, a decent Test match ground, with all the usual facilities in one of the liveliest cities in England. The Manchester weather generally doesn't help, but Old Trafford is one of the few grounds where sun has stopped play (in 1995, light from nearby greenhouses dazzled the batsmen resulting in a ten minute break).

The ground was first earmarked for cricket in 1856, after Manchester Cricket Club were evicted from their ground in the Old Trafford area. Less than a mile away, a new home was found, the current Old Trafford. The ground hosted its first first-class match in 1860, and various matches between England XIs continued until 1865, when Lancashire first played at the ground, beating Middlesex. Less than 20 years later, England first played Australia in Manchester and, appropriately enough, the game ended in a rain-affected draw. It was no classic, only 460 runs scored in 323 overs. Things would get better though; England won their next two matches at the ground.

In 1956, the bowling figures, which still stand as the greatest effort in the game, were recorded at Old Trafford. Jim Laker bowled England to victory against Australia with match figures of 19-90. Spinners continue to prosper; it was here that a young Shane Warne bowled the Œball of the century' to Mike Gatting, and Lance Gibbs picked up eleven wickets as West Indies tormented England in 1963. Gordon Greenidge made three centuries as the West Indies' dominance over England continued into the 1970s and 1980s. The two highest scores at Old Trafford came in the 1964 Ashes Test, Bobby Simpson hitting 311 and Ken Barrington replying with 256. The game, not surprisingly, was drawn.

Though the 1981 Ashes will always be about Headingley, it was at Old Trafford where Ian Botham hit the finest innings of the series. After a first-ball duck in the first innings, Botham's withering assault bought 118 runs at better than a run a ball. More recently, Dominic Cork picked up a hat-trick against the West Indies on a sunny Sunday morning in 1995. Though England have a fair overall record at Old Trafford, they have struggled in the last two decades, winning only one of the last 16 Tests at the ground.

This poor recent record, and average attendances, have left Old Trafford with fierce critics. It is best to judge for yourself. Tickets are excellent value. D block, in front of the Red Rose Suite, offers the best view. The corporate hospitality crowd frequents J and K blocks, directly opposite. Unusually, the Lancashire members' enclosure and pavilion is square of the wicket. There is a wheelchair enclosure in F block. The club has a museum, open on match days, a shop, and enough chips to satisfy any appetite.

How to get there:

Old Trafford is located near Manchester United's football ground of the same name. It is south of the city centre, on Warwick Road. It can be reached from Junction 12 of the M60. Car parking here is not such a problem as it is at other grounds, as various over-spill options are utilised for big matches.

Metrolink trains stop at Old Trafford Station, behind the Warwick Road end. Manchester's main station is Piccadilly, a station well served by links from all over the country. Rail travel can be expensive, depending on when you want to travel. Phone National Rail Enquiries for a quote (0845 748 4950). The bus station is on Chorlton Street. This is where National Express buses ( stop. From the city, look for a bus which stops at on Warwick Road or Chester Street.


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