Cricket: Stadium snub by Atherton
May 11 2008 by Phil Blanche, Wales On Sunday
FORMER England captain Mike Atherton has renewed his attack on holding Test cricket in Wales, insisting the Swalec Stadium is far too small to stage an Ashes match.
Atherton paid his first visit to Glamorgan’s redeveloped £9.4m home on Friday when the Dragons hosted Gloucestershire Gladiators in a Friends Provident Trophy tie.
And Atherton wasted no time in questioning the recent decision to hand Glamorgan the first Ashes Test between England and Australia next July.
“The Swalec Stadium has a capacity of 16,000, but look at Australia and you’ve got capacities of 50,000 60,000 – even 100,000,” said Atherton.
“To my mind the first Ashes Test should be – and could be – a game that you could sell out many times over the 16,000 capacity here.
“So I question the ECB’s policy of increasing the number of international grounds.
“You’d think it would be difficult if you’ve got 10 Test match grounds and you’re only playing seven Test matches a year.
“You have to ask whether a better policy would be to reduce the number of Test match grounds, but increase the capacity and availability for people to buy tickets to watch Ashes cricket.
“By doing that you’d be able to reduce the price of tickets and make it more affordable for families.”
Atherton, who has been a fierce critic of the decision to bring Test match cricket to Wales in the past, however, did praise the ambition shown by Glamorgan in modernising their ground, whose capacity could climb to more than 20,000 in the future.
“It’s a kind of functional stadium, but it does look terrific compared with the old Sophia Gardens,” he said.
“It’s a massive change – so well done to Glamorgan for that.
“They’ve shown plenty of ambition and they’ve got the stadium on budget and under time.
“So when you compare that to Wembley it’s a terrific achievement.
“The people at Glamorgan will be well chuffed with that and with the stadium that they’ve produced.”