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Top 5 Cricket grounds with historical significance

The first aspect that attracts a fresh fan is the history of a sport; the pride of an ardent follower, and the marker of a legacy that the sport has endured over time. For a sport that has evolved like no other, celebrating more than a century of existence, the game has stood witness to some of the finest moments – of spirited sportsmanship, gladiatorial gamesmanship, genius, grit, unbelievable gifts and even divinity. And for such a rich sporting tale that has packed so much awe, rightfully there have been more than the odd historical arenas of glory. While the idea itself to do this came easily, I’ve realized the task is no simple feat, given that I have around 199 grounds around the world to choose from.

The first look at the stats for games suggests a large share of the games were played in Australia and England with an average of close to 80 tests. Of course, the fact remains that these two patronized the sport over the decades, holding center-stage for long. New Zealand takes the next place with an average of 50 games, followed by the West Indies at 40. The Asians with an average of 25 have a very low record to boast in comparison.  But keeping the numbers aside, I’ve tried assembling a list based on the memories they hold in the mind of every cricket follower. And here is the final list of MY ‘Top 5 grounds with historical significance!’

 5) Eden Gardens Stadium (Kolkata, India) – 37 Tests, 26 ODIs

There are quite a few grounds in the sub-continent right from Kotla, Kandy, Gaddafi, Galle, Bangabandhu etc. that have witnessed intense duels where the hosts have stood, tall decimating fearsome visitors. But going by the yardstick of significance, among the Indian grounds, the first that comes to our mind is Eden Gardens.

Of course there’s Sachin’s favorite-Warne’s Nightmare 30 tests’ Chidambaram stadium, more popular as ‘the Indian MCG’ like its Australian namesake ‘MCG’, that even stood witness to one of the rare only-two world’s tied tests between the Aussies and India in 1986.

But then with 37 matches, an enormous seating capacity and a location for a story defying logic, Eden Garden edges out. Indeed a garden that treasures one of the most memorable fragrant knocks that remains an eternal perfume in the memory of any cricket lover. This was the ground that stopped the Aussie record juggernaut through one of the very special ‘Wisden Innings of the Century’ in 2001 from the stylish willow of a genteel Hyderabadi who remained forever a kangaroo thorn.

 4) Sharjah CA Stadium (Sharjah, UAE) – 5 Tests, 207 ODIs

The number of tests here might seem paltry, but this is the ground that has hosted the most number of one day internationals around the world at 207! In fact, the next is only a distant 134 at MCG, Australia.

One might recall memorable grounds like Wanderers for the world record chase, Centurion for primarily the India-Pak 2003 World Cup encounter, or Premadasa for eloquent Sri Lankan victories in 1996 etc. that lay claim for a place in our list. But Sharjah has its own place in cricketing history. The beauty is that it isn’t just the quantity, but the quality at display in this arena. There isn’t a more iconic ODI series in the minds of a cricket fan, at times even edging the quadrennial World Cups.

After all, a triangular series featuring the mighty Aussies and arch-rival neighbors India and Pakistan has enough style and substance to complete a wholesome riveting plot. Famously recalled as the dust storms, all the three nations have had memorable emotions to take home right from success, fear, celebrations to war. None more savored than the little master hammering the legendary leggie.

3 and 2) TIED – SCG (Sydney) – 100 tests, 140 ODIs and MCG (Melbourne) – 104 Tests, 134 ODIs

SCG, Sydney

We have a number of grounds around the world, especially in the picturesque New Zealand and the game’s most admired West Indies like Wellington, Headingly, Antigua etc., where one got to witness Lara’s unending knocks or the pace batteries’ swinging magic. But paling in the amount of cricket played out, we have two grounds tied in the second place, both from Australia and primarily ancient arenas that housed innumerable Aus-Eng tests over the first six decades of the 20th century.

MCG, Melbourne

Both grounds take a tied place given the close legacies they have written in their dairies. Between them, they have hosted a whopping 204 tests and 174 ODI’s. Such is the rich pride they boast, that any international cricketer must certainly have left his imprints upon either of this ground. Home to the CB series, Border-Gavaskar series, Ashes, and a host of others enchanting duels, these for sure have a worthy place on the list.

For a final word, none is more deserving given that these grounds saw the major treats of all yesteryear ‘talked-of legends’ in action!

1) Lords (England) – 125 Tests, 54 ODIs

Undoubtedly, the number one goes to cricket’s oldest museum, often referred to as the home of cricket – Lords with the oldest known match played on June 22nd 1814. ‘Lords – the mecca of cricket’ seems like a clichéd statement in vogue. But with an incomparable 125 tests and 54 ODI’s, this venue for sure has been home to some of the game’s most treasured moments, artistic skills, indefatigable warriors across the century. Easily the most hallowed ancient relic of this sport.

A historical pavilion, an elegant ‘Old father time,’ stupendous Media Centre, a mesmerizing symmetrical field, and the welcoming Grace Gates – all combine to form a monument called Lords.

From the Indian point of view, two of our greatest legends Dravid and Ganguly made their unforgettable debuts here. However, it still remains a cursed arena where the little master couldn’t muster even one century. Seemed like, this mecca wasn’t home for our God atleast! This was the venue for the 2000th test when England hosted India in July ‘11. That apart, it has witnessed some of the game’s elite classics in the Ashes.

Personally, my favorite part though is the ground’s willingness to capture its heroes with all the personal milestones by cricketers in Test matches at the ground recognized by names of century makers and of bowlers taking five wickets in an innings, or ten wickets in a match, being inscribed on the honors boards in the home and away dressing rooms.

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