According to reports in The Times, The Oval could be stripped of its status as one of the eight hosts of the ECB’s new competition the Hundred, which is set to be launched next year.
The Oval was announced last year as being among eight grounds approved by the ECB to host games in the Hundred, though there was no formal agreement made at that stage. “The ECB Board recognised the quality and integrity of the process and has endorsed the recommendations, with the next stage the detailed discussion and agreement with each of these selected venues,” said Ian Lovett, deputy chairman of the ECB, at the time.
Surrey have always been sceptical about the new competition, though they voted in favour of it last year. However, to introduce a new format, the ECB were required to alter their articles of association, which required approval from three-quarters of the first-class counties and the MCC. According to The Times, Surrey CCC failed to return a form indicating their approval of the change, and though the ECB still managed to get their changes approved, Surrey’s inaction reportedly sparked ire.
ECB chairman Colin Graves has reportedly asked the ECB’s board of directors to remove The Oval as a venue, with Bristol and Chelmsford thought to be favourites to replace them. The move would likely come up against strong opposition, from Surrey, other counties, and sponsors. The Oval is one of the biggest grounds in the country, and regularly sells more T20 Blast tickets than any other ground.