Why ‘world-class’ Headingley can play the perfect host for England to Test world No 1 New Zealand

YORKSHIRE chief executive Mark Arthur believes that the club has transformed its Emerald Headingley headquarters for the better since world champions New Zealand last played a Test there in 2015.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 7:28 pm

Arthur has welcomed next summer’s international schedule which will see England play New Zealand in the final game of a three-match Test series from Thursday, June 23 to Monday June 27, and then South Africa in the final fixture of a three-match one-day international series on Sunday, July 24.

Yorkshire had originally been due to stage a T20 international against South Africa as opposed to an ODI but that has been changed so that all three ODIs are now in the north and all three T20s in the south to make things easier travel-wise for the teams.

Headingley has taken huge strides forward as an international venue in the past few years, and the visit of Kane Williamson’s team is the highlight of a mouthwatering 2022 programme that gives it the chance to further enhance its profile.

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WORLD CLASS: Emerald Headingley, pictured on the first day of the third Test match between England and India last month. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“We’re absolutely delighted that we’ve got a mid-summer Test match against the world champions,” said Arthur. “They’re a very different side to the one that visited in 2015, and we’re a very different cricket ground from that time, too.

“Since then, the Emerald Stand has been built. We’ve erected floodlights. We’ve extended the square so that it has better net practice facilities in the lead-up to international games. We’re relaying the outfield this winter and we’ve also got the objective, in the near future, to reconfigure the dressing rooms so they’re better fit for international purpose.

“Our dressing rooms are perfectly fine for Yorkshire cricket, but when the entourage turns up for international cricket then we, like many other international grounds in this country, with the exception of Warwickshire, are found wanting.

“I’d like to think that this will be done before the next Ashes tour (in 2023), along with our plan to move the broadcast compound into Car Park F (a short walk from the ground along St Michael’s Lane) to enable us to have greater circulation facilities for spectators in Car Park A (behind the East Stand), which is basically all allocated to broadcast at the moment.”

Kane Williamson, in action for Yorkshire in 2018, will lead New Zealand against England in a Test match at Headingley next summer. Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

Yorkshire have just come off the back of another successful Test match – both from an operational point of view and an England win perspective – in the ongoing series against India.

Arthur believes that Headingley has won more friends and revealed that the pitch for the Test was once more favourably received by the International Cricket Council, the game’s governing body.

“We’ve just had the pitch report from the ICC and we got the top mark that you can get,” he said. “It was yet another very good Test match pitch and I just think everything we’ve now got to offer at Emerald Headingley, for the customers and for the players, is to be considered amongst the best in the world.

“We had a lot of people visit the ground for the first time, including directors from the ECB, and they were very impressed with the facilities that we now have to offer for international cricket.

Mark Arthur, right, pictured with Joe Root at Headingley in 2018. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“I think that augurs well for the future, and we’re really looking forward to next year’s New Zealand Test and also what promises to be a terrific ODI against South Africa.”

England’s 2022 summer starts with the New Zealand Test series which opens at Lord’s on June 2 before moving to Trent Bridge from June 10 ahead of its finale at Headingley.

That is followed by three T20 internationals against India at Old Trafford (July 1), Trent Bridge (July 3) and Ageas Bowl (July 6), followed by three ODIs against India at Edgbaston (July 9), The Oval (July 12) and Lord’s (July 14).

The South Africa ODIs are at the Riverside (July 19), Old Trafford (July 22) and then Headingley, and the South Africa T20s at Bristol (July 27), Cardiff (July 28) and Ageas Bowl (July 31).

Finally, there are three Tests against South Africa at Lord’s from August 17, Edgbaston from August 25, and The Oval from September 8.

In addition, the ECB has been confirmed that T20 Finals Day will be at Edgbaston on July 16.