Page last updated at 18:26 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 19:26 UK

Historic Welsh Ashes Test starts

England and Australia players line up prior to the start of play
England and Australia players line up before the start of play in Cardiff


Cardiff has made cricketing history as Wales stages its first Ashes Test.

The first game of the England-Australia got under way in fine weather at Glamorgan's stadium in Sophia Gardens, just outside the city centre.

With up to 100,000 visitors expected over five days, it is estimated the will bring £10m -£15m to the economy in and around the Welsh capital.

The first day saw a solid start from England, who ended on 336-7 after Australia hit back with late wickets.

Fans were warned to allow plenty of time to arrive because of roadworks on the M4 and the extra volume of visitors using public transport.

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said before the series began that the Ashes were a welcome boost to the area's finances.

ASHES TRAVEL ADVICE
Welsh tourism hoarding inside Sophia Gardens
BUSES: Nine local bus services stop on Cathedral Road near the ground and further routes stop on Cowbridge Road East, a few minutes walk from the stadium
PARKING: Residents-only near stadium; city centre carparks likely to be very busy; for park and ride facilities at Ikea off Ferry Road follow the signs (opens 0700-2100 daily). There is designated coach parking off Sophia Close with driver facilities. Contact the stadium for the appropriate access permit, on 02920 409380.
WALKING/CYCLING: The stadium is 20 minutes walk from the city centre on the Taff Trail or via Cathedral Road; Cycle route along Taff Trail, 30 cycle stands available at the ground
RAIL: 20 minutes walk from Cardiff Central station and routes will be signposted
BAY LINK: Bay Car bus links the city centre to Cardiff Bay and the Cardiff Water taxi provides an hourly link between the hotels and car parks in Cardiff Bay and Cardiff Castle in the city centre.
ROAD CLOSURES: Sophia Close will be closed from 0600-2000 on all five days.

"We've seen several major sporting events held in Cardiff over the last 10 years from the Rugby World Cup to FA Cup finals but this is the first time a cricket Test match has been played in Wales," he said.

"As a life-long cricket fan myself I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the best players in world cricket take to the field at the stadium this week.

"With 16,000 spectators expected every day of the match, south Wales can expect to make huge gains from the Ashes.

'Greatest day'

"Not only will it show the rest of the world what a fantastic place Cardiff is, but it will also boost the local economy."

Drivers could face delays on the M4 approaching Cardiff because of lane widening between J29 and J32, and there are speed restrictions in place from J24 to J27.

Visitors are not allowed to park around the stadium in resident-only permit zones for the npower test.

Drivers are also asked to follow special signs instead of using sat nav.

All over Cardiff "Ashes Ambassadors" will help to direct fans, many of whom will be first-time visitors.

The stadium can house up to 16,000 spectators.

Ch Insp Steve Murray of South Wales Police said: "We anticipate around 100,000 additional people in the city centre over the five days that the Ashes is in Cardiff which means the transport routes into the city centre will be extremely busy, particularly during the morning rush hour and also later in the evening."

Sophia Gardens from the air during the npower 1st Test

"We would reiterate the advice provided by the local authority in asking people to use public transport and to plan their journey in and out of the city centre."

Dr Andrew Hignall, Glamorgan cricket archivist and historian, is making his Test and England debut as a scorer.

He said: "We've been waiting over 100 years here in Glamorgan, here in Wales, for this day, the greatest day, certainly, in cricket in Wales."

"Little did I think as a little boy coming down here in the 1970s, sitting at the far end in my short trousers, in the River stand, that I'd be sitting at the ground that one day would become the 100th Test match ground in the world."

Council leader Rodney Berman said the first day had been an "incredible success" for everyone involved.

"We've been graced with beautiful weather and the atmosphere inside the ground and around the city is electric," he said.

"There's been a real air of excitement and all the fans I've spoken to."



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