5 Cricket Grounds You Must See!

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Cricket has never been just about the sport. The stadium, its ambience and culture of the people have all been an integral part of it. Celebrating what these grand arenas stand for, lets take a look at 5 of them you must visit.

1. Lord’s Cricket Ground, London (England)

Located in the area of St. John's Wood in North London, the Lord's Cricket Ground is definitely one of the finest cricket stadiums in the world. Also known as the 'Home of Cricket', Lord's has an aura in the ground the moment you enter it. A museum, a huge Media Centre, two restaurants and a long room which connects you to the dressing room all together make this stadium a must visit. Besides this, the stadium is capable of seating 30,000 cricket fans!

Host of some of the greatest matches in the history of cricket like the NatWest Series final in 2002 as well as the World Cup finals of 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1999 when the tournament was held in England. Lord's was also the first ground in cricket to recognize the excellent performances of players, irrespective of the fact that they play for England or the opposition team, by putting their name on the board across both the dressing rooms.

2. Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Melbourne (Australia)

The Melbourne Cricket Ground - the largest cricket ground in the world has a staggering capacity of over 100,000! It holds several other records such as being the tenth largest sports stadium in the world and having the highest light towers at any sporting venue. The 'G' - as the people of Melbourne affectionately call it - has hosted the 1956 Olympic games and the 2006 Commonwealth Games apart from the Boxing Day Test match held every year on the 26th of December.

It is also supplied with a Gallery of Sport, two giant electronic scoreboards, and a wide range of corporate and media facilities. Incidentally, it is this very ground that has had the privilege of hosting the first ever Test match, i.e. in 1877 when Australia played England and the first ever ODI match, i.e., in 1971 with the teams being the same. Fittingly, Australia won both those matches. It also hosted the 1992 World Cup final between Pakistan and England, which Pakistan went on to win. Too unlucky for the Aussie's perhaps!

3. Eden Gardens, Kolkata (India)

Founded in 1864, the Eden Gardens was India's answer to the MCG. The stadium is located in the Binoy Badal Dinesh Bag area in India's 'City of Joy' - Kolkata. The ground has hosted 37 Test matches and 25 one-day internationals in its cricketing history. It first hosted a Test match in 1934 against England, led by Douglas Jardine, while it's first ODI was the 1987 World Cup match between India and Pakistan.

It is the second biggest cricket stadium in the world, following the Melbourne Cricket Ground also the second largest stadium in India behind the Salt Lake Stadium, also located in Kolkata. Yet, it possesses a passionate and vociferous crowd, as its seating capacity is 90,000! It is said 'a cricketer's cricketing education is not complete till he has played in front of a packed Eden Gardens'. This explains why some cricketers dream of playing in Kolkata more than any other ground in the world at least once in their career, let alone Lord's.

4. Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (Australia)

Established in 1848, the Sydney Cricket Ground is situated in Moore Park in the east of Sydney. It has a capacity of 46,000 and is not only one of the world's most famous cricketing venues but also for Australian Rules football and some rugby league football played throughout the year. It is owned and operated by the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust, a sports company that also manages the Sydney Football Stadium located next door.

The stadium is more often than not the ground where cricketers, especially Australians, want to bid farewell to international cricket. Justin Langer, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne quit on the same day when Australia beat England in the final Ashes Test match of 2007 by a thumping 10-wicket margin, to win the series 5-0 bringing the Ashes back to Australia in an emphatic fashion. It has been the home of several great players such as Steve Waugh, Glenn McGrath, Doug Walters, Brett Lee and Michael Clarke, who is the current Australian captain.

5. Kennington Oval, London (England)

Better known as 'The Oval', this ground is one of the most breathtaking sights in England. As the name suggests, it resembles the 'oval' shape which is a rarity for a cricket ground which is frequently more circular in shape. It is this ground which has been a source of inspiration for the construction of other grounds across the world in a similar style of architecture, to make it look attractive. Located in South London, the ground represents parts of the ancient English architecture which makes it special to the city and the sport. This is also the ground where international cricket began for England. The inaugural Test match in England was played here in September 1880, resulting in England defeating Australia by five wickets, with the pioneer of batting and the outspoken WG Grace scoring a century on debut. Besides this is where a Test series in England traditionally ends every summer.

More suitably, this is the historic venue where the foundation of the rivalry between England and Australia was set. This was back in August 1882 when England, chasing only 85 to win, collapsed from 51 for 2 to 78 all out. The next morning the local newspaper, The Sporting Times published its famous mock obituary and the legend called the Ashes was born. It has also been gracious host to several crucial sporting occasions and can genuinely call itself to be the most important general sports ground in the world. It hosted the first ever FA Cup final in 1872 and the following year the first ever football match England's national team played, which was against Scotland. Interestingly, it was also an impermanent home to prisoners in transfer during the World War II. All this makes it an amazing destination for not just cricket fans, but tourists the world over.