England pair excited by new OT

England pair excited by new OT
Lancashire and England duo Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson are both excited after unveiling the plans for the 70m refurbishment of the club's world renowned Old Trafford home on Tuesday.

The pair were on hand at the unveiling of the photographic impressions of the new venue, which is expected to be completed in time for the club to bid for an Ashes Test match in 2013.

The proposed multi-million pound facelift of Lancashire’s 151-year home will start as soon as this February on a 1,000-seater conference centre to replace the County, Jubilee and Tyldesley Suites.

The new venue will be home to two new grandstands, a redesigned pavilion, permanent floodlights, a futuristic scoreboard, a hotel, new player’s dressing rooms and a new media facility.

The capacity will rise from 15,000 to 25,000 for international matches, while the square will be re-orientated from East to West to North to South at the end of next season.

The re-orientating of the square, which will take 18 months to bed in, will mean a larger size of square. This will allow for five new wickets to be constructed, meaning the club can bid for more international and high profile matches.

It also means that there is unlikely to be much County Championship cricket, if any, played at the Manchester venue in the 2010 season. The club is already in discussions with Liverpool, Blackpool, Southport and Lytham to host four-day games.

After facing the flashing lights of the cameras and video cameras this morning, Flintoff said: “It looks lovely. One of the big things for me is keeping the pavilion.

Lancashire CCC Chief Executive Jim Cumbes outlines the new developments to Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson

“You don’t quite know what will happen - but it looks a great building, and one we have been looking forward to for a long time. “You go to some grounds around the world - and they don’t have any character, they are like football grounds. But this seems to have kept some of the old traditions along with bringing in some pretty radical buildings as well. I think it will look great.

“We need to get Test cricket back here as soon as we can. We need to make this a venue that can’t be turned down. Once you get all that up, it will be impossible not to have games here. Looking at the pictures, you can’t imagine not having anything here. I know it is only a picture, but it does look great. I think you could have pretty much anything here.”

Anderson said: “It’s different, but good different. The way grounds are going at the minute they are very modern. You can see from the likes of Trent Bridge with the way they have redesigned their old ground. My first impressions (of Trent Bridge) were that it was a bit much, but once you play there the atmosphere is great. It does actually look quite good.

“I think this is the same. The first impressions are that it is quite drastic, but at the same time the ground needs it. We need to get back up to international standard to get the Test matches back. I have only played two Tests here, but it has been great. To be able to get all the family here is a big thing. It’s not as easy for them to get to other grounds.

“From an England point of view it has been a successful ground for us over the last few years.”

On the re-orientation of the square, Anderson added: “That is good for Fred, but not so good for me because I enjoy bowling with the wind. The sun has been a bit of a problem on a couple of occasions. I hear that it might do a bit for the first couple of years after it has been turned round. That is good for everyone.”
Graham Hardcastle
Photo: Simon Pendrigh