The Ashes – Richard Sutcliffe: No ‘northern’ Ashes Test is just nonsense shows lack of respect

A general view of Headingley before day two of the Investec Second Test against New Zealand earlier this summer.
A general view of Headingley before day two of the Investec Second Test against New Zealand earlier this summer.
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Clearly, the ECB really do believe it is grim up north.

What other explanation can there be for the fact the latest instalment in one of sport’s great rivalries will be played out no further north than Nottingham?

Headingley, Old Trafford and the Riverside have all been overlooked as venues for the five Tests, which will instead be shared out between London, the Midlands and south Wales.

And this despite the 13-man squad for Wednesday’s first Test featuring four from Yorkshire, two from Lancashire and two more from Durham. Clearly, the ECB don’t mind taking our players but perish the thought we might want to watch any of them take on Australia in person.

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The decision just doesn’t make sense. Not so long ago, arguments that the homes of both the White and Red Rose counties had fallen behind other grounds in terms of spectator comfort were valid.

But things have changed markedly in recent years and at great expense to both counties, which again calls into question why neither were handed a Test this time around.

It is all well and good saying that fans can travel to Trent Bridge, Edgbaston or even the capital. But Test cricket – and, in particular, an Ashes clash – is an expensive business with tickets edging ever upwards towards £100 per day. Add on travel from anywhere further north than Sheffield and it is a serious amount of money.

Manchester and Leeds will again be Ashes venues in 2019, which is something. But why not play one Test at Old Trafford this summer and then another at a completed Headingley in four years’ time?