As any visitor knows, Edgbaston Cricket Ground is one of the jewels in Birmingham's sporting crown, a place famous for historic Test matches, the T20 Blast Finals Day, plus Warwickshire and Birmingham Bears games. It will be one of the venues in the 2019 World Cup and 2022 Commonwealth Games.
However, it is not just as a venue of sporting legends that Edgbaston is famous. It is increasingly enjoying a raised profile as a hospitality, conference and events centre, with the magnificent South and West stands, both completed in 2011, offering state-of-the art amenities as well as some of the finest spectator facilities on matchdays.
This has been recognised by the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, which has shortlisted Edgbaston for its Excellence in Hospitality awards. The event will take place at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham city centre on April 19th.
Commenting on the shortlisting, chief operating officer at Warwickshire County Cricket Club Craig Findall said: “Our mission at Edgbaston is to become the best cricket business in the world and to be shortlisted for Excellence in Hospitality is great recognition for the work that we are doing in this area.
“The outstanding fixtures on show in the summer of 2017 was an excellent opportunity to showcase our hospitality offering on the biggest stage. We’ve got another great programme in 2018 and look forward to welcoming thousands of visitors from around the world.”
Last year was certainly a special one at Edgbaston. Apart from regular events like the T20 Blast finals day, it also hosted five ICC Champions Trophy matches and the first-ever day-night Test match in England, as they faced the West Indies in August under the floodlights with the pink ball.
This year has already brought some great news for the ground, which has gained one of the best packages of major matches between 2021 and 2024 from the England and Wales Cricket Board - and this before even considering the Commonwealth Games fixtures.
However, fans booking corporate hospitality for the summer's cricket have some more big events to look forward to. In particular, England take on Australia in a T20 international on June 27th before the world's number one Test side India come to town. The Test will take place from August 1st-5th and may inspire memories of the 2011 Test, when England won by an innings to usurp the Indians as the world's number one Test side.
England are not currently in a position to rise to number one in the rankings as they were then, but if they can win in New Zealand this month and at home to Pakistan at the start of the summer they will be able to close the gap on the sides currently above them in the rankings.
With next year bringing the Cricket World Cup and the Ashes to Edgbaston, these are special times for the ground. But with its hospitality, catering and conferencing facilities in line for an award, there is as much cause for excitement off the field as on it.