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Most picturesque cricket stadiums from around the world

Wisden India logo Wisden India 25-03-2017

In today’s day and age where commerce drives cricket, most stadiums, in an effort to seat as many as possible, have become tall concrete structures with multiple tiers. But there are many that have managed to retain their aesthetic beauty, and mesmerise television audiences and spectators alike. Here’s a look at some of the most picturesque cricket stadiums from around the world.

1. HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala

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To say that the ball literally flies here would be an understatement. At 4110 feet above sea level, the beautiful stadium in the foothills of the majestic snow-capped Dhauladhar mountain range, which is a part of the Himalayas, is the highest international cricket stadium in the world. The golden rays of the sun playing hide and seek between the hills on a clear day is a breathtaking sight. Equally stunning is the sight of the entire ground covered in six inches of snow during winter with sub-zero temperatures hitting the valley. The stadium can seat close to 25,000 spectators and has become a regular pit-stop in India’s cricket calendar since first hosting the IPL in 2010.

2. Galle International Stadium, Galle

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The Indian Ocean to the north, the Dutch Fort, one of the world heritage sites overlooking the ground, grass banks on either side, and the comfort of the sea breeze right through the day makes the Galle International Stadium a spectator’s delight. So much that you can catch the action while walking around the streets or even while driving around the ground. The sight of the temporary stands floating in water courtesy the tsunami that killed over 40,000 people in Sri Lanka in 2004 is one of the most heartbreaking images associated with the venue. Structural damage aside, sea silt turned the pitch into a swamp, and the stadium had to be rebuilt from scratch.

3. Saxton Oval, Nelson

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If you got the entire population of Nelson into the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, you would still have 20,000 empty seats. In February this year, the sleepy little town marked its arrival on the world stage when it hosted its first international during the 2015 World Cup. If the Hagley Oval is a pretty venue, sitting as it is in the middle of a park in a garden city, the Saxton Oval is a picture postcard. Encircled by hills from which paragliders float down as the sun sets, yet close enough to the sea for the air to smell salty when the wind blows in the right direction, this is a ground where you expect time to stand still.

4. Riverside Stadium, Chester-le-Street

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The open stadium surrounded by plenty of greenery is regarded by many as one of the more “spookier” grounds in the world. Stories of Shane Watson being haunted by a ghost in the nearby Lumley Castle overlooking the ground is the stuff of legend, thanks mainly to him being on the receiving end of a hilarious sledge from Darren Gough, the former England pacer. Playing in an ODI in 2005 against Australia after Watson’s scary encounter was revealed, Gough told Watson, “Don’t worry, you can sleep in my bed tonight” before mimicking a ghost.

5. Newlands, Cape Town

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Nestled at the foot of Table Mountains, Newlands it is one of the most majestic sights in the cricket world. On a clear day, there’s no better sight than watching cricket from one of the several grass banks that dot the boundaries. Interestingly, the mountains also act as an accurate barometer on the weather front. Weathermen believe rain isn’t too far away whenever the peak of the mountain isn’t visible. The several vineyards and the train line that runs right outside the periphery of the ground add to the charm of the venue which hosted South Africa’s first match upon readmission in 1992.

6. Queenstown Events Centre, New Zealand

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Located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu near the Southern Alps, it would be hard to beat the Queenstown Cricket Ground for a more picturesque location. Described as a cameraman’s delight, the airport runway that runs adjacent to the stadium’s imaginary boundary wall results in a clear view of flights taking off and landing. Right in the heart of the adventure capital of the world, fans are never short of any thrill-seeking adventures for pre or post-match entertainment either. The ground held its first international in 2003, just two years after becoming a first-class venue.

7. Bellerive Oval, Hobart

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On the banks of the Derwent River, the Bellerive Oval has been the home of cricket since 1988. Originally built in 1931, Bellerive received a significant upgrade which included a 6000-seat Southern Grandstand, two members’ buildings and indoor cricket nets in 2003. It was once again renovated to increase seating capacity for the 2015 World Cup. Australia have an impressive Test record here, having not lost a Test at the venue for 11 matches, a record dating back to 1989-90.

8. Arnos Vales, St Vincent

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Flanked by the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Kingstown Airport runway on the other, it wouldn’t take more than a Chris Gayle flick to send the ball soaring outside the small playing arena. Give the tropical weather all-year round, it can however get stifling hot and humid, with rain always over the horizon. The venue that can seat a little over 10,000 people hosted its only Test in 1981, but has now become a limited-overs venue.

9. Wormsley, Buckinghamshire

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The famous Wormsley cricket ground has played host to games involving biggest stars of the cricket world. From Brian Lara to Viv Richards and Shane Warne, everyone has experienced the joy of playing on this ground that now hosts women’s internationals, most recently the Test between England and India last year. Built inside a 2500-acre private estate owned by Paul Getty in the Chiltern Valley in Buckinghamshire, the ground is surrounded by grass banks, estates and trees and a mini-forest. Even the dressing rooms and the tents have an old-world charm.

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