Mayors urge ECB to rethink 2027 Ashes venues

England win Ashes Test at Headingley
Chris Woakes hit 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 rethink the venues for the 2027 men’s Ashes.

Neither Old Trafford or Headingley will host a Test in four years’ time.

Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham and West Yorkshire’s Tracy Brabin have expressed their “disappointment” in a letter to ECB chair Richard Thompson.

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

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

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

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

“Headingley and Old Trafford are two of England’s most iconic cricket grounds, and home to 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.

“Very few grounds attract support as passionate or indeed as diverse as Headingley and Old Trafford – as a number of England players themselves have acknowledged in recent days.

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

“We urge you to think again and ensure people in the north of England get the opportunity to witness more iconic Ashes moments in 2027.”

Headingley is set to host the women’s Ashes Test in 2027 while Old Trafford will stage a men’s Test against opponents still to be determined.

The venue allocation of major matches staged by the ECB until 2031 was announced in June.

Matches are allocated to venues based on a number of criteria including maximising attendances, maintaining historical levels of geographic spread across England and Wales, and supporting the economic sustainability of those grounds.

Currently there are seven grounds hosting regular men’s Test cricket in this country, meaning two miss out in a five-match Ashes series.

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

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

Traditionally Lord’s and The Oval always host men’s Ashes Tests given their location in London and the fact they are the two biggest grounds in the country.

Birmingham’s Edgbaston, which has hosted 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 includes maximising attendances and ensuring a geographic spread of matches,” continues the letter from the mayors.

“It feels even more remarkable therefore that an area so passionate about cricket, comprising 14.9m people and covering 14,500 square miles, misses out on a men’s Ashes Test in 2027 whilst the south hosts three tests.

“It does not feel right that at a time when cricket needs to do more to spread interest in the game around the country that London consistently hosts three Tests every summer.”

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