To celebrate the start of The Ashes, take a tour of some of the best cricket grounds in the UK and beyond.

This summer, cricket fans will be eagerlywatching the age old rivalry between England and our southern hemisphere offspring, Australia, unfold in a number of different stadiums across the country, each with their own unique character and personality.

Which one bowls you over?

Can’t afford to get to The Ashes or take the time off work to travel across the country to catch a match? Check out these belters - with interesting facts and videos, you’ll feel like you’re sitting in the stands, pint in hand, with the British summer sunshine beating down on your furrowed brow as you anxiously watch your team bring in the boundaries. Here’s your chance to nosey around 12 of the world’s most famous cricket grounds.

First up, five top cricket grounds in the UK:

1. Lord's, London

Capacity: 28,000

A respectable listicle about the world’s best cricket stadiums has to start with the Home of Cricket, Lord’s, and this iconic ground gets our top spot. Built in 1814 and named after Thomas Lord, the owner of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) at the time, Lord’s is home for Middlesex County Cricket Club, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the European Cricket Council – MCC own and house the Ashes Urn on this hallowed turf. In its 201 year history, there have been more than 100 Test matches played here. Some of the legends of Lord’s include Graham Gooch, the highest Test run scorer at the ground with 2,015 runs, and bowler Ian Botham and his 69 wickets. Although it may be too traditional for some cricket fans, the atmosphere in this ground is truly unique during Test matches, particularly in the morning of the first Test of the summer, before everyone heads to the Lord’s Tavern for lunch and one of their British beef burgers. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of cricket, the architectural features of the stadium are worth a peek: from the Victorian pavilion to the Honours Board, and not forgetting the Old Father Time weather vane, there’s plenty of Instagram action to be had on a tea break.

2. Headingley, Leeds

Capacity: 17,000

Next door to Headingley Rugby Stadium, this is the epicentre of sport in Leeds. Yorkshire County Cricket Club have called Headingly home for more than 120 years and the ground has seen many spectacular sporting moments, including two triple centuries from ‘the Don’ Australia’s Sir Donald Bradman, and Botham’s legendary match-saving performance in the third Test at the Ashes in 1981. Yorkshire can also be proud of their very own Geoffrey Boycott, who scored his 100th century right here. If you think all cricket crowds are mild-mannered and beyond hooting and hollering, think again! Supporters in the Western Terrace would fit in at Wembley during an FA Cup final – well known for their enthusiastic cheering, families are best to sit elsewhere. Although it’s not the prettiest stadium, the club have recently unveiled the ‘Headingley Masterplan’, a huge renovation project to bring permanent floodlight pylons, a rebuild of the North/South Stand to increase capacity to 20,000, plus much more over the next 20 years. If you are planning a trip to Headingley for the cricket, or the rugby, then check out our article on the ten best places to eat and drink in the suburbs of Leeds.

3. Ageas Bowl, Southampton

Capacity: 20,000

Not as old as Lord’s, but every bit as legendary, the Ageas Bowl (formerly the Rose Bowl) was built in 2001 and is the home of Hampshire County Cricket Club. Something of a newbie on the cricket circuit, the stadium has already begun creating a reputation for itself as a regular fixture on England’s white-ball schedule and host of the inaugural Test match against Sri Lanka in 2011. Off the M27 in the leafy Hampshire suburbs of Southampton, it’s a great ground to spend a warm summer’s day sipping ice cold beers in their stylish stands, admiring the perfectly circular pitch. In case you have a few too many, there’s also now a 171-bedroom Hilton hotel, with spa and steak restaurant, just opened at the ground, so you’ve not got far to fall and the end of the day.

Ageas Bowl, Southampton, cricket ©Ben Sutherland / Flickr

4. Edgbaston, Birmingham

Capacity: 25,000

The second biggest cricketing venue in the UK (after Lord’s) Edgbaston is Warwickshire County Club’s turf and is also regularly used for Test matches, One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals. When England comes to play the turnout is terrific; Birmingham’s cricket fans and local Asian communities flock here when India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka show for a match. The stands were packed that legendary day back in 2005 when Edgbaston hosted the epic second Test at the Ashes and England became the first team to hit 400 runs in a first day of Test cricket against Australia since 1938. Another highlight in the ground’s 133 year history is Brian Lara’s world-record first-class score of 501 not out. This classic English cricket ground is moving with the times, installing extra seating for the third Test Match of this year’s Ashes Series. Oh, and there’s great news if you hate rain, Edgbaston is the least disrupted by downpours out of all of England’s Test Grounds, losing less than 90 minutes per play compared with over 8 hours on other pitches. For more information on where to head after the cricket, read our article about the best eats in Edgbaston.

5. The Oval, London

Capacity: 23,500

Another big-hitter in the south-east of England, The Oval was built in 1845 to house Surrey County Cricket Club and was the first ground to host international Test cricket in 1880. It’s also considered the birthplace of the Ashes, as it was after a game played here against Australia in 1882, which they won by seven runs within two days, that a sports newspaper printed a mock-obituary for English cricket, leading to the creation of the Ashes urn. With such a long and rich history in Test cricket, the atmosphere here on major Test match days is something to be relished: gates open at 4:30pm and close of play is scheduled for 9:30pm, between which times the Pimms pours from the bar next to Hobbs Gates and hungry fans ravish greasy parcels of fish and chips or pulled pork rolls. Floodlights were only recently installed, but the original gas-lamps that used to light late play still stand – the Oval was the first sports arena to acquire such lamps in 1889.

Now for the rest of the world:

6. SCG, Sydney, Australia

Capacity: 44,000

One of the world’s cricketing cathedrals, Sydney Cricket Ground’s Ladies’ Pavilion, with its mint green tiled roof, is an iconic spot to watch your club score a century. The Australian ground was built in 1848 and is home to New South Wales Blues cricket team and the Sydney Sixers. It’s also where Sir Don recorded his highest first-class score of 452 not out – he’s such a star of the stadium (and the sport) that they named a stand after him in 2014. In 2007 it was the setting for the fifth Ashes Test match where Australia triumphed in a 10-wicket win to become the first team in 86 years to achieve an Ashes Series whitewash.

Sydney Cricket Ground SCG panorama ©Mathew F / Flickr

7. MCG, Melbourne, Australia

Capacity: 96,000

Every Boxing Day almost 100,000 Aussies pack-up their Christmas BBQ left-overs and head to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the traditional Test – it’s livelier than the office Christmas party (unless Gary goes heavy on the snowballs again) especially in the infamous Bay 13, directly opposite the members area. 160 years of cricket at this hallowed ground has given fans a roaring roster of stellar sporting moments, including Trevor Chappell’s controversial underarm delivery and the 1992 Cricket World Cup final between Pakistan and England, which saw almost 87,000 spectators in attendance. With tons of bars and cafés spread out all over the ground, huge crowds don’t necessarily mean you’ll be queuing for your schooner of VB all afternoon.

8. HPCA Stadium, Dharamshala, India

Capacity: 25,000

Barely a decade old, this cricket ground in the hometown of the Dalai Lama has to be one of the world’s most picturesque, sitting almost 5,000ft above sea level at the foot of the snow-capped Himalayan mountains. The stadium is home to the Himachal Pradesh cricket team and hosts a number of Indian Premier League matches – during which the Kings XI Punjab take up residence and the ground is packed with raucous supporters. Although there have only been two One Day Internationals played here (India vs. England 2013, India vs. West Indies 2014) the success of the IPL matches is encouraging and we may see more taking place in the future. It is a truly unique venue (imagine coming into bowl from the Himalaya End) with plenty of stunning scenery to keep you captivated during the breaks.

HPCA Stadium Dharamshala, India ©Abhijit Athavale / Flickr

9. Eden Gardens, Kolkata, India

Capacity: 66,000

Dubbed ‘cricket’s answer to the Colosseum’, Eden Gardens is one of India’s premier sporting venues and one of cricket’s most iconic grounds. The Bengal cricket team currently call Eden Garden home, as do the IPL’s Kolkata Knight Riders. Since construction was completed on it in 1864, the stadium has become famous not only for what happens on the pitch, but for the passion of the cricket fans who come to scream their lungs out and cheer on their team from the stands – despite officially holding 66,000 spectators, there have been occasions when the ground held more than 100,000 extremely vocal supporters. Tragically, Eden Gardens is also well known for the riots that occurred during the late 1960s and again in 1999, after Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar collided with India’s Sachin Tendulkar impeding his play – spectators were evicted and the match continued in front of empty stands.

10. Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi, India

Capacity: 40,000

It may not be pretty to look at – the Stadium End resembles a shopping centre multi-story car park – but this concrete jungle is the second oldest international cricket stadium (built in 1883) still in use in India and has witnessed plenty of cricketing history in the making. Home of the Delhi Daredevils, the India national cricket team has also not been beaten here for more than 20 years. Their success is largely down to the support they get from the home crowd, a huge jumble of noise, colour and sound that hardly ever fails to intimidate opposing teams. However, England don’t fare too badly here; of only six games won by visiting teams at Feroz, England have won three.

11. Galle International Stadium, Galle, Sri Lanka

Capacity: 35,000

Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, overlooking the 16th century Dutch fort in the south western city of Galle, this cricket ground gives HPCA a run for its money in the picturesque pitches stake. Also known as The Esplanade, it was originally built as a race course in 1876 – the first permanent pavilion wasn’t erected until 1892. However, the original stadium was almost completely destroyed by the 2004 tsunami and has undergone extensive reconstruction over the last decade. But this doesn’t seem to have killed the stadium’s spirit, as the carnival atmosphere spreads through the crowds on big match days, particularly when the Barmy Army are over to join in the fun.

Galle international cricket stadium viewed from moon bastion ©Shehal Joseph / Flickr

12. Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

Capacity: 25,000

Another belter to add to the bucket-list, Newlands sits in the shadow of South Africa’s Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak and is currently home to the Cape Cobras. During international cricket matches the crowd comes alive, and those lucky enough to bag a spot on a grassy knoll (those that have survived the stadium’s 1990s facelift) bask in the sunshine and soak it all in. Since the first Test match was played here in 1889 – when England defeated South Africa by an innings and 202 runs – the ground has hosted more than 50 Tests, of which South Africa have won 18.

Newlands cricket ground, South Africa ©thomas / Flickr

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