THE mayors of Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire have pleaded with the England and Wales Cricket Board to reconsider its northern snub for the 2027 men’s Ashes.

England captain Ben Stokes admitted earlier this week he was “devastated” by the allocation for the five-Test series in four years’ time, with both Headingley and Emirates Old Trafford missing out.

It means that the most northerly of the grounds will be Trent Bridge, which has not staged a men’s Ashes Test since 2015, while Edgbaston, Lord’s, the Kia Oval and the Ageas Bowl are also host venues.

An uneven geographical split has been labelled “disappointing” and “remarkable” by Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham and West Yorkshire’s Tracy Brabin in an open letter to ECB chair Richard Thompson.

“We are writing to express our disappointment at the English Cricket Board’s announcement of match venues for the Men’s Ashes in 2027,” wrote the mayors.

“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.

“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 while the South hosts three.”

This last point has drawn scrutiny, with traditional London venues Lord’s and the Kia Oval joined by the Ageas Bowl, which will stage its first men’s Ashes Test in 2027.

Headingley will play host to the women’s Ashes Test in four years’ time while the Yorkshire ground and Old Trafford both return to the men’s programme for the 2031 series between the old rivals.

“It does not feel right 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,” Burnham and Brabin added.

“Next year for example, Lord’s hosts one third of England’s 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.”

Burnham, who is a regular at Emirates Old Trafford and rang the bell before play started on the third day of the current Ashes clash, later appeared on BBC's Test Match Special, where he spoke to Jonathan Agnew about the letter.

"We're writing in disappointment not anger," said Burnham, the former MP for Leigh.

"We know the ECB has to take Tests around the country but just look at this here today and listen to that atmosphere.

"If we're going to get the game to all parts of the country and make sure it's really connecting with people everywhere we must have a men's Ashes Test in the north.

"I came here aged 11 for Botham's Ashes and those experiences are hugely important aren't they? Now that cricket has got the attention of young people again it's really important to get the game to all parts of the country particuarly the north of England." 

Following the publication of a letter, Lancashire Cricket issued the below response:

Andy Anson, Chair of Lancashire Cricket, said: “We are entirely comfortable with the process that the club went through with the ECB regarding the major match allocation package for future men’s and women’s internationals between 2025-31.

“The announced package provides the club with seven years of certainty for international match scheduling which will see 40 days of international cricket played at the venue. The package is the result of in-depth discussions between the counties and the ECB and has been a thorough and fair process.

“As well as the Men’s Ashes Test in 2031, we will also be welcoming India for four matches in five years, in addition to hosting international women’s cricket at Emirates Old Trafford for the first time in many years - which we all look forward to.

“We are grateful to the ECB and our fellow counties for the level of cooperation and communication in arriving at this schedule.”