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Northern mayors petition ECB to rethink 2027 Ashes allocation

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The mayors of Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire have urged the ECB to reconsider its allocation of men’s Ashes Tests for 2027, which will see the north of England overlooked.

Ben Stokes, England’s captain, said before the ongoing fourth Test at Emirates Old Trafford that he was “devastated” that none of the five Tests would be staged north of the River Trent, with Lord’s, the Kia Oval, the Ageas Bowl, Edgbaston and Trent Bridge chosen as the host venues.

Andy Burnham (Greater Manchester) and Tracy Brabin (West Yorkshire) have now written an open letter to the ECB, describing the allocation of venues as “remarkable” and criticising the fact that London “consistently hosts three Tests every summer”.

“We are writing to you to express our disappointment at the English Cricket Board’s announcement of match venues for the men’s Ashes in 2027,” the mayors wrote. “As you know, there will be no men’s Ashes Test in the north of England in 2027 – meaning that this week at Old Trafford will be the last men’s Ashes Test played in the North of England until 2031.

“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’ own ‘Miracle of Headingley’ in 2019. 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.

“We understand that the ECB’s criteria for awarding Test matches includes maximising attendances and ensuring a geographic spread of matches. It feels even more remarkable therefore that an area so passionate about cricket, with a population of over 15 million people, misses out on a men’s Ashes Test in 2027 whilst the south hosts three.

“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. Next year, for example, Lord’s hosts one third of England men’s Tests whilst Headingley doesn’t get any.

“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.”

Stokes said on the eve of the Old Trafford Test that England tend to perform well in the north due to the level of support they receive from crowds. “I’m a bit devastated that there won’t be any Ashes cricket here in 2027 in the north. It’s a shame,” he said. “I don’t make those calls, but if I was involved, I would have said, ‘please keep at least one game in the north’. I think it’s always a loud atmosphere here. You know the crowds we get in the north – and I say the north quite bluntly there – is very good. We get a lot of support.”

Mark Wood and Jack Leach had previously expressed their own “surprise” and “disappointment” around the choice of venues, with Leach suggesting that by playing primarily in the south, England were not making the most of their home advantage.

Headingley is due to host a women’s Ashes Test in 2027, and both Headingley and Old Trafford are due to stage men’s Ashes Tests in 2031.

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