“That Edgbaston continues to remain the least-featured English ground remains a surprise”
19th-century England had five Test grounds – The Oval, Old Trafford, Lord’s, Trent Bridge, and Headingley – in that order. Edgbaston completed the sextet, in 1902. This might have to do with the fact that Warwickshire were never one of the more ‘glamorous’ English counties.
Indeed, they were rarely considered seriously till they broke through the shackles by winning the County Championship in 1911 under Frank Foster, the first time a county outside the Big Six – Kent, Lancashire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Middlesex, and Surrey – achieved this.
Edgbaston has hosted the fewest Tests among the six major English grounds – a mere 50. This is somewhat counterintuitive, as England have done way better at Edgbaston than anywhere else in the country.
|England at major home grounds (10-Test cut-off)|
Note: England have also played 6 Tests at Chester-le-Street, 3 at Cardiff, 2 at Southampton, and 1 at Bramall Lane
Even if one uses a 21st-century cut-off, Edgbaston still features second on the list, next to only Old Trafford.
|England at major home grounds in 21st century (10-Test cut-off)|
But that is not all. England’s outstanding record at Edgbaston is one of the best for any country. That The Gabba is the Australian stronghold is well-known. Almost always do Australia schedule the first Test of the series at Brisbane. Unfortunately, England do not seem too keen on doing the same.
|Greatest strongholds in Test history (20-Test cut-off)|
|South Africa||SuperSport Park||Centurion||23||18||2||9.000|
|Sri Lanka||Galle International Stadium||Galle||31||18||7||2.571|
|Sri Lanka||Sinhalese Sports Club||Colombo||42||20||8||2.500|
Note: The best win-loss ratio at any overseas venue is for Australia at Lord’s (2.428 from 38 Tests; 17 wins, 7 defeats)
But how have touring teams fared in various English grounds? Has any team stood out at a ground? As mentioned above, Australia do have an excellent record at Lord’s, but what about other grounds?
|Win-loss ratio by touring teams vs England at Edgbaston vs other venues|
|Team||At Edgbaston||At other English venues|
|Excludes neutral Tests|
As is evident, every single touring team (barring West Indies) have a pathetic record at Edgbaston. It is surprising that England do not host more Tests there.
As for West Indies, their four wins came in consecutive Tests at the ground, during their golden run between 1984 and 2000, when they always had a group of world-class fast bowlers.
Australia did not win a Test here till 1975. South Africa’s only win came here in 2008, in their sixth and last attempt.
That Edgbaston continues to remain the least-featured English ground remains a surprise.