Eighty-five percent of ticket-holders for this summer’s rescheduled Test against West Indies at The Kia Oval have opted to roll their tickets over to next year’s visit of India, rather than accept a full refund, according to figures released by Surrey on the day that the original fixture had been due to get underway.
The news is a vote of confidence for the enduring popularity of Test cricket, given the prospect of all six of this summer’s fixtures against West Indies and Pakistan being played behind closed doors in “bio-secure” venues.
The Oval Test, the first of the 2020 season, would originally have involved West Indies playing at the venue for the first time since 2004. However, the ECB announced on Tuesday that that fixture will now begin on July 8 at the Ageas Bowl, with Emirates Old Trafford hosting the subsequent two fixtures of the series, on July 16 and 24 respectively.
It means that Surrey will now miss out on hosting an England Test for the first summer since the second World War, having staged an unofficial Test against a Rest of the World XI in 1970 when that year’s tour by South Africa was cancelled for political reasons.
Surrey informed their ticket-holders of the news on Monday, June 1, and offered them the opportunity to either claim a full refund or move their tickets to the India visit in 2021, retaining the same seats for the same day of play. The first four days of the series had been sold out, and currently, only 15% have fans have opted for their money back.
Charlie Hodgson, Managing Director of the Kia Oval, said: “The interest in next year’s India Test Match is a real testament to the passion and loyalty of cricket fans in this country.
“Whilst it’s incredibly disappointing for everyone that the Test match summer is not beginning today at the Kia Oval, there are currently bigger things we all need to work together to achieve.
“The clear desire shown by fans to attend next year’s Test represents a massive vote of confidence in English cricket and the Kia Oval and our continued ability to host sold out Test matches that provide a full day of world class sport in a unique and special environment.”
Ticketholders have until the end of the month to request their refund, which they can activate by filling in a form on the Club’s website. There will be a second opportunity for refunds when the dates of next year’s match, which will revert to The Oval’s traditional end-of-summer slot, are confirmed by the ECB.
The Oval is also due to host a one-day international against Ireland on September 15, although details for that game remain subject to ratification by the ECB.