The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton

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The Cooper Associates County Ground, more commonly known as County Ground, Taunton, is an international cricket ground in Taunton, Somerset, serving as home ground for England in bilateral series. Apart from this, the ground serves as home ground for Somerset County Cricket Club who have been competing here since 1882. Although the ground is well equipped with all essential facilities, the ground mostly hosts ODI matches and has never witnessed a single Test match. The only T20 played here was between England and South Africa back in 2017. The venue is all set to host few WC matches to determine the final 4 teams.

History:

Established in 1882, international cricket found its way to this stadium back in 1983 with the first ODI played between England and Sri Lanka. The stadium has hosted no test match and only one T20 so it can be considered as a minnow ground. A brief account of this relatively smaller cricket ground is given below:

  • ODI Matches: 3
  • Seating Capacity: 8500 (12500 with temporary seating)
  • Matches won by the team batting first: 2
  • Matches won by the team batting second: 1

Only hosting 3 matches creates uncertainty because teams are oblivious to the pitch and weather conditions for this venue. But this will also make the matches interesting because no one knows what to expect on the day.

Pitch and Weather Updates:

Taunton County Ground has a balanced pitch suitable for batting first and second. The pitch doesn’t provide much swing and spinners might not get much from the surface so we can expect decent scores from both sides. A good option would be to bowl first at this track and see how the pitch is reacting in the first innings and then adjust your game plan accordingly in the second innings.

Weather at this venue is pleasant. The venue mostly experiences partly cloudy weather with a small amount of rain. Light breeze might make things slightly difficult for batsmen but overall, a solid batting track.

Mega Event Fixtures:

This ground is not used currently in international cricket but it will host 3 WC fixtures in June 2019. The details of these clashes is given below:

  • Afghanistan vs. New Zealand (8th June)
  • Australia vs. Pakistan (12th June)
  • West Indies vs. Bangladesh (17th June)

Not a star-studded line-up when you think about the big matches but considering the fact that this ground hasn’t witnessed a single ODI match since 1999, the citizens of Somerset would be happy to see international fixtures coming to their town and these matches may prove to be the revival of international cricket in Taunton County Ground. The first match will feature NZ and Afghanistan, which quite frankly, is an easy win for NZ. They’re currently ranked 3rd in ICC ODI ranking and it’s improbable that they’ll lose to a minnow team. In fact, for NZ, this will be an opportunity to defeat a team by a huge margin and improve their net run rate.

The second contest will feature Pakistan battling it out against Australia. Australia were down and out entire previous year but they’ve made a strong comeback in the series against India and Pakistan. Pakistan may have been looking stronger than Australia last year, but since the 5-0 crushing defeat at the hands of Australia in recent ODI series, it seems like Australia will win on the day. As for the WI vs. Bangladesh clash, both teams are equally balanced and skilled. Odds are 50-50 in favor of both teams. WI will be hoping that they’re top order batsmen like Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmeyer perform on the day. Bangladesh will be seeking early wickets. No clear-cut winners as of this moment.

Conclusion:

WC bouts will surely help bring back international cricket to this relatively smaller stadium. Although these matches are not between the top ranked nations, the real fight in these clashes rest in the need for improving net run rate. Australia and New Zealand look like the stronger sides for the described line-up but Pakistan has shocked the world before when they came back out of nowhere to win CT 2017. WI and Bangladesh seek a shot at redemption at this WC and if they perform good in this tournament, fans will forget the bad form they’ve had for a while now.

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