February 21, 2024

The Ashes: Mayors urge ECB to reconsider venues for 2027 series

Chris Woakes scored the winning runs as England won the third Ashes Test at Headingley

The mayors of Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire have urged the England and Wales Cricket Board to reconsider the venues for the 2027 men’s Ashes.

Neither Old Trafford nor Headingley will host a Test for four years.

Andy Burnham from Greater Manchester and Tracy Brabin in West Yorkshire expressed their “disappointment” in a letter to ECB chairman Richard Thompson.

Southampton will host its first men’s Ashes Test in 2027, along with Lord’s, The Oval, Edgbaston and Trent Bridge.

This will be the first time since 2015 that the Nottinghamshire ground has hosted a men’s Ashes Test.

As it stands, the ongoing Test at Old Trafford is the final men’s Ashes Test to be played north of Nottingham until 2031.

England captain Ben Stokes, who was born in Cumbria and played for Durham, said he was “devastated” by the decision.

“Headingley and Old Trafford are two of England’s most iconic cricket grounds, with historic Ashes moments from Ian Botham’s heroics in 1981 to Ben Stokes’ ‘Miracle of Headingley’ in 2019,” said the letter from Burnham and Brabin.

“Few grounds attract such passionate or diverse support as Headingley and Old Trafford – as some of England’s own players have admitted in recent days.

“The rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire within cricket is great, but this is an issue that unites both sides of the Pennines.

“We ask you to think again and ensure that people in the north of England get the chance to see more iconic Ashes moments in 2027.”

Headingley is set to host the women’s Ashes in 2027 while the men’s Test against their opponent at Old Trafford is yet to be decided.

The allocation of venues for the major games held by the ECB until 2031 was announced in June.

Venues are allocated matches based on a number of criteria including maximizing attendances, maintaining historic levels of geographical spread across England and Wales, and supporting the economic sustainability of those venues.

There are currently seven grounds regularly hosting men’s Test cricket in this country, meaning two will lose out in a five-match Ashes series.

Southampton’s Ageas Bowl will become the 10th UK ground to host a men’s Ashes Test in the UK. It will also host the women’s Ashes in 2031.

It played a key role in hosting cricket during the pandemic, as one of the ECB’s ‘bubbles’. England played three Test Championships and a number of white-ball matches there, as well as the International Cricket Council staging the 2021 World Test Championship final on the south coast.

Traditionally the Lord and the Oval always host the men’s Ashes Test because they are based in London and are the two biggest venues in the country.

Edgbaston Birmingham, which has hosted the men’s Ashes Tests in three consecutive series, will do so again in 2027, but not in 2031.

“We understand that the ECB’s criteria for awarding Test matches include maximizing attendance and ensuring a geographical spread of matches,” the letter from the mayors continues.

“So it feels all the more remarkable that an area so passionate about cricket, home to 14.9m people and covering 14,500 square miles, will miss out on the men’s Ashes Test in 2027 and three Tests in the south.

“It doesn’t feel right, at a time when cricket needs to do more to spread interest in the game across the country to London consistently hosting three Tests every summer.”

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