The North-South Series and the MCC’s Champion County match against Essex will be held in Barbados in March 2018, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Thursday (September 21). The inaugural North-South series was held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi earlier this year, and will be conducted as part of England’s preparations for the 2019 World Cup.
The three-match one-day series will be held at Kensington Oval on March 18 and 21, followed by the final game at the Three Ws Oval on March 23. The four-day encounter between MCC XI and County champions Essex will be played as a day-night fixture with pink Dukes balls at Kensington Oval from March 27-30.
Sir Garfield Sobers, the former West Indies captain, welcomed the move to play cricket in his hometown. “Barbados is honoured to have been chosen to stage the ECB North-South Series and MCC Champion County Match for the very first time next year,” he said.
“We have been home to numerous prestigious cricket events and this will once again be the case as we welcome the players to our lovely shores. We look forward to hosting them, and trust that it will be an intense and high-quality showing of the game.”
The idea behind choosing Barbados as the host venue is to take cricket to areas where the attendance is less and ECB reckon that playing a day-night four-day match would help bring awareness about the game.
“MCC is delighted to be hosting the Champion County Match in Barbados next year, and continuing the Club’s collaboration with the ECB,” said John Stephenson, the MCC’s Head of Cricket.
“It has been a long-stated aim of the MCC World Cricket committee to help to reinvigorate Test cricket in areas of the world where attendances are dwindling, and MCC believe that playing a four-day pink-ball first-class match in Barbados can help to do that.
“The Club also hopes it will provide a platform for the iconic Kensington Oval to go on to potentially host a day/night Test Match in the near future. The pink-ball Champion County Match utilises players from ECB’s North-South Series and gives current and future England players valuable exposure to day/night cricket in the longer format. MCC is pleased to play its part in helping the ECB and looks forward to welcoming Essex for this fixture next year.”
South won 3-0 the last time North-South Series was played, but with new coaching appointments this time around, it should be a hard fought series. Paul Collingwood was named as the head coach for North with former Nottinghamshire all-rounder Paul Franks as his deputy. On the other hand, Mark Ramprakash and Andy Flower will take care of South side.
The squads will be named by England selectors with the help of coaches and is scheduled to be announced in December, along with the England Lions squad for the West Indies tour.