As the name suggests, the Old Trafford Cricket Ground is located at Old Trafford in Greater Manchester, England. The ground has been permanent host to the Lancashire County Cricket Club. History of this stadium takes us back to the year 1857 when this ground was established. The Manchester Cricket Club has also been a tenant to this ground from 1856.
The site of the Old Trafford ground was used as a cricket ground in 1857, although the path leading to it was rocky and uneven. Later on a large pavilion was established for the amateurs but the games held at the pavilion attracted meager crowds. In those times, Roses matches were held between the Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the Lancashire County Cricket Club with two roses, one white and one red, used as an emblem. The Roses matches of 1857 started attracting a significant number of fans to the pavilion. In 1878, a three-day match held between Lancashire Club and Gloucestershire Club was witnessed by more than 28,000 spectators. The ground hosted its debut test match in 1884 between England and Australia. Old Trafford became the second English ground to have started hosting test matches, The Oval being the pioneer.
The ground remained closed during the World War I. During the times of the Second World War, the Old Trafford was used as a supply deport for the military troops. In between the wars, the ground rose to its highest ever reputation. Similarly, Lancashire successfully won four Championship titles at the Old Trafford from these five years. Another highly popular match held at the ground was the Victory Test which was played for three days in 1945. The test match was attended by a crowd of 76,463 people.
The ground went into renovations in 1981 and in current times, the Pavilion is the last remnant of the original ground at Old Trafford. The ground has hosted a total of 73 test matches till date with only the Lord’s and The Oval having better figures. The Pavilion ends are named the Brian Statham End and the Stretford End. On interesting point of fact to note is that the pavilion was destroyed in a bomb attack in 1940 and most of it was rebuilt at a cost of around 1 million pounds.
The Old Trafford has two separate media stands at opposite ends for press writers. The television and radio commentators however operate from a separate commentary box at the Stretford End. The wickets at the pitch are laid on the east-west axis as compared to the common north-south axis which causes problems for some batsmen during sunsets. This ground was also infamously known as the wettest ground in the country, until Cardiff took away the fame to itself. In fact, Old Trafford has been the only test cricket ground in history to have abandoned a match without a single ball being played. What’s more is that this has been repeated twice, in 1890 and again in 1938, both of them against Australia.
There have been many notable moments of Old Trafford that are etched on the pages of history. Legendary player, Donald Bradman was able to reach a combined score of only 81 runs from three tests played at the Old Trafford because of unfavorable light conditions. In 1971, the semi-final of the Gillette Cup between Gloucestershire and Lancashire was played in near-darkness. David Hughes from Lancashire went out to play on that day to score 24 runs from a single over and grant his side a memorable victory.
At present, the ground is at the second stage of a three-phase re-development plan that began in 2008 and will last till 2013.