Essex County Cricket Club have agreed a deal to play T20s at the Olympic Stadium in London from 2016, according to Sky Sports.
Middlesex and Kent also expressed an interest in putting on a unique ‘T20 festival’ at the landmark, according to Essex chief executive Derek Bowden.
However, close attention will need to be paid to scheduling any such tournament, as 2016 also marks the year when West Ham move into the stadium. The Hammers fought off bitter competition and were even engaged in legal battles that even included allegations of spying, with London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient. Essex’s bid will finally hope to restore some of the goodwill that bounded around Stratford for two weeks in the summer of 2012.
The end of the Olympics saw Lord Coe express fears that in spite of the glorious success enjoyed by London 2012, Britain’s Olympic legacy could still go to waste if stadiums went unused and participation in sport did not increase. Now, Essex are set to give the east London arena yet another purpose, though whether the deal goes ahead is largely dependent on a decision by the London Legacy Development Corporation.
Bowden explained the festival would last two weeks, and he has also revealed that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), as well as London Legacy, have expressed support at an early stage.
Meanwhile, Essex have been showing off their T20 credentials with by beating Glamorgan by four wickets. Eagles wicket-keeper James Foster hit an incredible 24 off just a single over, including five straight boundaries, before Ben Foakes added another 46.
However, head coach Paul Grayson will be hoping his side can return to form in Division Two of the County Championship after they slipped down to third with the recent defeat against Worcestershire.
It is possible Essex had become too reliant on Alistair Cook in the early stages of the season. Cook hit an impressive knock of 127 in the draw against Surrey last month, but has since departed for England duty and will probably not play again for his county this season.
Grayson now appears to be facing a similar plight with Ravi Bopara, whose performances for England against Sri Lanka have suggested England coach Peter Moores will not be sending him back to Chelmsford any time soon.
Essex return to County Championship action on Sunday in a home match against Surrey, before another T20 blast fixture against Hampshire next Friday at the Ageas Bowl.
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