Ranking the World's Top 25 Cricket Grounds, Stadiums and Venues

Alex TelferFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2014

Ranking the World's Top 25 Cricket Grounds, Stadiums and Venues

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    Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

    Trying to rank the world's Top 25 cricket grounds was a very difficult task; one man's heaven can be another man's hell.

    There is a huge degree of subjectivity involved. For example, most grounds have a good atmosphere when a Test match or derby clash is taking place.

    To comprise this list, each venue was allocated points out of 10 over three categories (see below) before adding up the totals and listing them in order of low to high.

     

    Categories

    Atmosphere: Is it at a cacophony of sound? Does it make opposing players tremble in their spikes? Is the gentle ripple before play begins one of life's great pleasures?

    History: How long has the ground been in use for? What famous cricketing incidents occurred there? Have a plethora of records been set on that piece of hallowed turf?

    Aesthetics: How nice is the ground to look at? How nice is its location? What is the surrounding area like?

    Read on to find out the results.

     

    *Please note, only grounds that have hosted international cricket were considered.

Honourable Mentions

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    Firstly, in no particular order, here are ten grounds that didn't quite make the cut for various reasons:

    1. New Road, Worcester, UK

    2. Bellerive Oval, Tasmania, Australia

    3. Queenstown Events Centre, Queenstown, New Zealand

    4. Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, Pakistan

    5. Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Dhaka, Bangladesh

    6. Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica

    7. Beausejour Stadium, Gros Islet, St Lucia

    8. Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy, Sri Lanka

    9. Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Chandigarh, India

    10. SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff, UK

25. HPCA Stadium

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    Ashwini Bhatia/Associated Press

    Location: Dharamshala, India

    Capacity: 25,000

    Built: 2003

    Teams: Himachal Pradesh, Kings XI Punjab, India

    Atmosphere: 5

    Although it is sometimes hard to separate the hype from the genuine passion in the Indian Premier League, the recent appearances by Kings XI seemed suitably raucous.

    History: 1

    Barely a decade old, the highest ground in the world has only played host to one ODI so far, but with the IPL's visits proving a success, more could soon be on the way to the HPCA.

    Aesthetics: 9

    If it was based on just scenery alone, then northern India's stunning HPCA Stadium would be higher up this list. Where else can you come into bowl from the Himalaya End?

    Total: 15

24. SuperSport Park (formerly Centurion Park)

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    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    Location: Centurion, Gauteng, South Africa

    Capacity: 22,000

    Built: 1985

    Teams: Northerns, Northern Transvaal, South Africa

    Atmosphere: 6

    Somewhat depressingly named after the TV company who sponsor it, this relatively new venue delivers a relaxed environment, particularly on the grassy banks where a BBQ is often in action.

    History: 4

    There isn't an abundance of cricketing history at the ground, but Sachin Tendulkar scored his 50th Test century here and it also hosted the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy final.

    Aesthetics: 5

    The typically modern stands take some time to love but the grassy banks and exceptional facilities for players and spectators alike make up for it.

    Total: 15

23. Rose Bowl

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    Location: Southampton, UK

    Capacity: 20,000

    Built: 2001

    Teams: Hampshire, England

    Atmosphere: 6

    Situated in the countryside just outside of Southampton, this pretty ground is a perfect place to watch cricket on a warm summer day or night.

    History: 2

    Barely a decade old, the Rose Bowl doesn't score highly in this category yet. However, it's been a regular fixture on England's summer white-ball schedule. It hosted its inaugural Test match when Sri Lanka visited in 2011.

    Aesthetics: 8

    What this brand new stadium may lack in character, it makes up for with its perfect circular pitch, which is nicely complemented by a stylish pavilion and stands.

    Total: 16

22. Old Trafford

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    Location: Manchester, UK

    Capacity: 26,000 (for international matches)

    Built: 1857

    Teams: Lancashire, England

    Atmosphere: 6

    Rarely a ground where the sun will be blazing down, the place is rocking when either the Aussies or Lancashire's bitter rivals Yorkshire are in town.

    History: 8

    England's second-oldest test ground has hosted plenty of memorable moments on the pitch including the "ball of the century" from Australia's Shane Warne in 1993 and Jim Laker's astonishing match figures of 19 for 90.

    Aesthetics: 3

    Despite its relatively traditional pavilion, the ground has never been the easiest on the eye, and the new red blocks have hardly improved matters.

    Total: 17

21. Port Elizabeth (St George's Oval)

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    Location: Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    Capacity: 19,000

    Built: 1885

    Teams: Eastern Cape, Warriors, South Africa.

    Atmosphere: 6

    Generally speaking, this one of the quieter venues on the Rainbow Nation's cricketing circuit. However, the place comes to life for internationals.

    History: 6

    Another stadium to have been heavily regenerated post 2000. Back in 1988, the ground staged the first ever Test match that took place outside of England and Australia.

    Aesthetics: 5

    With its iconic four-tier Duckpond End stand, St George's Oval is one of the more recognisable cricketing stadiums in South Africa and comes complete with the requisite grass banks to lounge on.

    Total: 17

20. Headingley

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    Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    Location: Leeds, UK.

    Capacity: 17,000

    Built: 1890

    Teams: Yorkshire, England

    Atmosphere: 7 (x 2 after about four pints)

    Many opposing teams and fans don't know what has hit them when the almost football-like climate of the Western Terrace (a no-go area for families) gets warmed up.

    History: 8

    How about two triple centuries from the Don? Or Yorkshire's very own Geoffrey Boycott scoring his 100th century here. And, of course, that performance from Ian Botham in 1981?

    Aesthetics: 2

    Like its rival across the Pennines, Headingley can never be described as the most picturesque spot to watch cricket, and its new marble-effect Media Centre seems a little out of place.

    Total: 17

19. The Gabba

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    Tertius Pickard/Associated Press

    Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

    Capacity: 42,000

    Built: 1895

    Teams: Queensland, Brisbane Heat, Australia

    Atmosphere: 6 (11 if you're drunk, 1 if you're sober)

    Normally boasting an excellent batting track, the Gabba also offers a hostile environment for the opposition—especially in the traditional Ashes opener. Recent "concrete-isation" has led to a loss of intimacy.

    History: 7

    A fortress for the Aussies, who haven't lost a Test here since 1988, the ground hosted the first-ever tied Test in 1955 against the West Indies back and the inaugural T20 international Down Under.

    Aesthetics: 4

    While it is now essentially a huge concrete bowl, the Brisbane Cricket Ground was once a more classical cricket stadium with a series of eccentric stands and grassy banks for fans to relax on.

    Total: 17

18. The Wanderers Stadium

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    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

    Capacity: 34,000

    Built: 1956

    Teams: Highveld Lions aka Transvaal, South Africa

    Atmosphere: 7

    The ground is nicknamed "The Bullring" by locals due to the circular shape and intimidating atmosphere generated by a partisan home support.

    History: 6

    Opened in the mid 20th century, the stadium has played host to many memorable moments including Michael Atherton's marathon 10-hour innings and the highest-scoring ODI game ever.

    Aesthetics: 5

    Not the most attractive ground in the world—or even South Africa for that matter—but grassy banks provide alternate options among the array of grandstands.

    Total: 18

17. Kensington Oval

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    Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

    Location: Bridgetown, Barbados

    Capacity: 28,000

    Built: 1882

    Teams: Barbados, Barbados Trident, West Indies

    Atmosphere: 7

    Some of the ground's eccentric Caribbean flavour was lost by a recent facelift, but watching a big match at the Kensington Oval remains a unique treat.

    History: 8

    Since hosting the first England touring side in 1895, "Mecca"—as it's known by the locals—has witnessed multiple major games, including Australia's comfortable victory over Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup final.

    Aesthetics: 4

    The ramshackle stands of old were completely demolished and replaced by a new $135m stadium over the course of 2004 to 2007. The comfort factor was increased, but a degree of charm was lost.

    Total: 19

16. Wankhede Stadium

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    Saurabh Das/Associated Press

    Location: Mumbai, India.

    Capacity: 34,000

    Built: 1974

    Teams: Mumbai, Mumbai Indians, India.

    Atmosphere: 8

    A classic subcontinental cauldron of colour and noise during IPL and international contests where the enthusiastic locals come in their droves.

    History: 5

    As well as hosting Ravi Shastri's six sixes and Sunil Gavaskar's 205 against the West Indies, it's most poignant moment was when Sachin Tendulkar walked off the field for the very last time in November 2013.

    Aesthetics: 6

    Like many of today's grounds, the Wankhede Stadium lost some of its lustre after its 21st century renovations, but it remains a spectacular sight when there's a full house.

    Total: 19

15. WACA

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    Location: Perth, Australia

    Capacity: 24,500

    Built: 1890

    Teams: Western Australia, Perth Scorchers. Australia

    Atmosphere: 8

    Similar to other Australian venues, the Western Australian Cricket Association ground can get rowdy when the afternoon sun and beers kick in, but generally, it provides an excellent atmosphere for cricket.

    History: 6

    Famous for being one of the fastest wickets in the world, the WACA has long been a pace bowler's paradise. Glenn McGrath registered his best ever figures of eight for 24 here against Pakistan.

    Aesthetics: 5

    Iconic floodlights and the nearby riverside setting aside, poor facilities have found the ground under pressure of late, and it has been left off Australia's Test schedule for the 2014-15 visit of India.

    Total: 19

14. Karachi Cricket Stadium

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    Location: Karachi, Pakistan

    Capacity: 34,000

    Built: 1955

    Teams: Karachi, Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan

    Atmosphere: 9

    Pakistan's current home-game embargo has unfortunately removed the fervent melting pot that is the National Stadium from the international circuit.

    History: 7

    A fortress for Pakistan, who have lost just two Tests here, the ground played host to Mohammad Younis scoring his record-breaking ninth century in a single calendar year.

    Aesthetics: 4

    The field of play is pleasingly circular but a closer inspection reveals dilapidated stands, leaking roofs, rusting seats and crumbling concrete staircases.

    Total: 20

13. Basin Reserve

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    Location: Wellington, New Zealand

    Capacity: 11,600

    Built: 1868

    Teams: Wellington, New Zealand

    Atmosphere: 6

    Broadly speaking, the Kiwi cricket-watching public tend to be more restrained than their trans-Tasman counterparts. That said, a visit by Australia certainly ups the ante.

    History: 7

    Built on land flattened by an earthquake, the New Zealand capital hosted its first Test match in 1929. Sir Richard Hadlee is the leading wicket taker on the ground having taken 53 wickets at an average of 20.3.

    Aesthetics: 7

    Despite literally being in the middle of a roundabout, the Basin Reserve's location at the foot of Mount Victoria makes for picturesque cricketing scenes.

    Total: 20

12. Feroz Shah Kotla

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    Location: Delhi, India

    Capacity: 40,000

    Built: 1883

    Teams: Delhi, Delhi Daredevils, India

    Atmosphere: 8

    Famed for its cauldron-like, partisan atmosphere, playing at the Feroz is a huge test of nerve for opposing players.

    History: 7

    Delhi fans have seen many ups and downs over the years. Euphoric highs such as Anil Kumble taking all 10 wickets in one innings mix with the embarrassing low of a 2009 ODI against Sri Lanka being abandoned due to a poor pitch.

    Aesthetics: 6

    Something of a concrete jungle dominated by the huge Stadium End stand that looks like a multi-storey car park.

    Total: 21

11. Queen's Park Oval

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    Location: Queen's Park Oval, Trinidad

    Capacity: 25,000

    Built: 1896

    Teams: Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel, West Indies

    Atmosphere: 8

    A classic Caribbean carnival-like atmosphere with the larger-than-life fans providing as much entertainment off the field as there is on it. Everything is magnified when the West Indies are in town.

    History: 6

    Despite the Windies having declined of late, they've produced many memorable performances here, including bowling England out for a paltry 46 in 1994.

    Aesthetics: 7

    Against the scenic backdrop of the Northern Hills, a circle of slightly mismatching stands (some refurbished in 2007 for the World Cup) nicely blend the old and the new.

    Total: 21

10. Galle International Stadium

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    Location: Galle, Sri Lanka

    Capacity: 35,000

    Built: 1876

    Teams: Galle Cricket Club, Sri Lanka

    Atmosphere: 7

    Fun-loving local crowds deliver a festival-like atmosphere for big matches and are ably reinforced by the likes of the Barmy Army when England are in town.

    History: 6

    Practically destroyed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the ground had to be rebuilt from scratch. On the field, Muttiah Muralitharan has taken 87 wickets here in just 11 matches.

    Aesthetics: 8

    Despite, as above, most of the original stadium being reduced to rubble, it remains one of the world's most scenic grounds. The 16th-century Dutch fort, replete with clock tower, provides a memorable backdrop.

    Total: 21

9. Edgbaston

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    Location: Birmingham, UK

    Capacity: 25,000

    Built: 1882

    Teams: Warwickshire, England

    Atmosphere: 8

    Described by Alec Stewart as "up there with Eden Gardens," England's visits, particularly the Test matches, are well supported. A large local Asian community also turn out in their droves for the visits of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

    History: 7

    The scene of Brian Lara's world-record first-class score of 501 not out, Edgbaston also hosted England's epic clash with Australia in the 2005 Ashes, widely considered to be one of the greatest Test matches ever. 

    Aesthetics: 7

    Positive redevelopments have managed to keep the classic English-ground ambience with a contemporary twist. The capacity increase makes it the second biggest cricket ground in the UK.

    Total: 22

8. Adelaide Oval

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    Location: Adelaide, South Australia

    Capacity: 53,000

    Built: 1873

    Teams: South Australia, Adelaide Strikers, Australia

    Atmosphere: 7

    When the Ashes are in town the Oval is buzzing, but the ground can be more sedate for contests of less intensity. As per usual, things get spicier when the beers start to kick in.

    History: 8

    The infamous Bodyline series of 1932-33 reached its peak at this ground when mounted police were required to keep the crowd under control. England fans won't have fond memories of their side's collapse in 2006.

    Aesthetics: 7

    The nearby cathedral and river once made this ground seem very English, but the new stands have put paid to that. However, it still remains a stunning place to play cricket.

    Total: 22

7. Trent Bridge

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    Location: Trent Bridge, UK

    Capacity: 17,000

    Built: 1841

    Teams: Nottingham, England

    Atmosphere: 8

    Although it doesn't have the clout of the Oval and Lord's, for many fans, Trent Bridge is England's finest cricketing arena. One of the main reasons for that is the enthusiastic support it houses for county and international games.

    History: 8

    Another ancient venue that has seen various Kings and Queens come and go since it first started hosting cricket. Among the many records set here, England's 2005 and 2013 Ashes victories will remain long in the memory.

    Aesthetics: 7

    A process of thoughtful renovation has seen some architecturally inspired stands join forces with older models to create a quintessential English ground. It also has one of the world's best scoreboards.

    Total: 23

6. Newlands

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    Location: Cape Town, South Africa

    Capacity: 25,000

    Built: 1889

    Teams: Western Province, Cape Cobras, South Africa

    Atmosphere: 7

    The spectacular surroundings make for a buzzing atmosphere, particularly in international cricket. While most of the grassy knolls have been replaced, spots on the remaining ones are sought after.

    History: 7

    Any ground that has been in existence for 125 years and witnessed 50 Tests and counting will have seen some sights. Locals will have particularly enjoyed the nine centuries that local-boy Jacques Kallis registered.

    Aesthetics: 9

    When Newlands basks under the sun with Table Mountain towering in the background, is there a greater place to watch cricket? The only reason this ground doesn't get full points is the abundance of bland concrete when looking from other angles.

    Total: 23

5. SCG

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    Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

    Location: Sydney, Australia

    Capacity: 44,000

    Built: 1848

    Teams: New South Wales, Sydney Sixers, Australia

    Atmosphere: 7

    More personable than the MCG, the Sydney Cricket Ground is one of the world's great cricketing cathedrals and provides a spectacular environment for spectators.

    History: 9

    Sir Don Bradman did plenty of damage here, and the ground was where he recorded his highest first-class score of 452 not out. Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting holds the record for most triple-figure scores: six.

    Aesthetics: 9

    The resplendent green roof of the Ladies' Pavilion is one of the most recognisable in world cricket, and although the grassy hills have long departed, the ground retains a nice balance between old and new.

    Total: 25

4. The Oval

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    Location: London, UK

    Capacity: 23,500

    Built: 1845

    Teams: Surrey, England

    Atmosphere: 8

    Like most of the other Test match grounds in the UK, the captivating atmosphere before and during a major Test match at the Oval should be sampled. The ground's high-quality wicket normally provides runs and pace in equal measure.

    History: 9

    More than most. The first-ever Test match? Check. The FA Cup final? Check. The birthplace of The Ashes? Check. One of the most dramatic periods in recent memory was this burst from Devon Malcolm.

    Aesthetics: 8

    While modern renovations have negatively impacted many other grounds, the addition of the OCS stand in 2005 added a tangible sense of awe to the stadium. Don't forget the world's most (only) iconic gas tanks, too.

    Total: 25

3. Eden Gardens

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Location: Kolkata, India

    Capacity: 66,000

    Built: 1864

    Teams: Bengal, Kolkata Knight Riders, India

    Atmosphere: 10

    Trying to concentrate while thousands of fans are screaming so loud that you can't hear yourself think is why playing at Eden Gardens is considered a rite of passage for a cricketer.

    History: 8

    Riots, World Cup finals, stampedes, hat-tricks, the greatest come-from-behind victory of all time and even more riots. What more could you possibly want? 

    Aesthetics: 7

    Sadly, like many of the other stadiums, modern-day renovations, while necessary in terms of safety and comfort, have just taken the edge off the ground in terms of its attractiveness.

    Total: 25

2. MCG

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Location: Melbourne, Australia

    Capacity: 96,000

    Built: 1854

    Teams: Victoria, Melbourne Stars, Australia

    Atmosphere: 8

    The MCG is at its cricketing zenith in the traditional Boxing Day Test, where almost 100,000 people combine to create a carnival atmosphere. Can be raucous, especially around the infamous Bay 13 area.

    History: 10

    Although not as old as Lord's, 160 years of action has produced a sea of iconic moments. Perhaps the most memorable, for all the wrong reasons, was the "underarm delivery" from Trevor Chappell.

    Aesthetics: 7

    Sadly, the G has gone down a similar route to other modern stadia, sacrificing its charm for an increased capacity. While—in a modern day sense—it remains pleasing on the eye, it's still a huge concrete bowl.

    Total: 25

1. Lord's

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    Location: London, UK

    Capacity: 28,000

    Built: 1814

    Teams: England, MCC, Middlesex

    Atmosphere: 8

    Although it may be a little stuffy and archaic for some, the Home of Cricket is a special place, especially when a Test Match is taking place. The first morning of the first Test of the summer, in particular, provides a unique atmosphere.

    History: 10

    Since the earliest-known match at Lord's taking place between the MCC and Hertfordshire in 1814, there has been plenty of history created—including more than a 100 Test matches.

    With 2,015 runs, Graham Gooch is the highest Test run scorer at the ground, which includes the highest individual score—a memorable 333, against India in 1990. Ian Botham leads the bowlers with his 69 wickets taken.

    Aesthetics: 9

    From the Victorian-era pavilion, which contains the famous Long Room and its Honours Board, through to Old Father Time (a weather vane) and the pleasant St John's Wood surroundings, the home of Marylebone Cricket Club is the definition of photogenic.

    Total: 27

     

    *Please note all statistics courtesy of ESPNCricinfo unless specified