2015 Ashes snub to the North is 'very sad' says Lancashire chief


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The Independent Online

The decision to leave the north of England without an Ashes Test in the 2015 series has been branded "very sad", by Lancashire's chief executive Jim Cumbes.

Although Lancashire and Durham have been awarded Ashes Tests in 2013 by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the most northerly venue in 2015 will be in the East Midlands – Nottinghamshire's Trent Bridge.

Cumbes, speaking at a news conference at Old Trafford where the County Championship trophy was on display, said: "The realisation that in 2015 there will be no Australia Test match north of the Midlands is very sad for the northern part of the country. Our goal was to get 2013, although in an ideal world we would have liked 2015 too.

"Whether it's Old Trafford or Headingley, I'm sad that somewhere like Yorkshire cannot stage an Ashes Test match. I don't want them to stage one instead of us but I'm very sad about that because these are just hotbeds of cricket in this part of the world."

The award of a 2013 Ashes Test should secure Lancashire's financial future after several years in the international wilderness during which time the club have experienced such severe cashflow problems that at times it looked as though they would struggle to pay the players.

Lancashire chairman Michael Cairns admitted the county had had to take "massive risks" in terms of launching a redevelopment of the ground that will total £42m, and saw them embroiled in a lengthy legal dispute that alone cost them £4m.

The award of the Ashes, coupled with the county winning the championship outright for the first time in 77 years, has now provided some security. "We are absolutely delighted to have got the 2013 Ashes," added Cairns. "We have got Lancashire CCC back as a Test match arena and we are now in great shape."

He admitted that finances had been "very fragile" and that losing their Test status had been "a kick up the backside". Lancashire are now in talks with coach Peter Moores over a new contract. His current deal expires in March and there had been interest in the former England coach from Sri Lanka before the latter appointed Geoff Marsh yesterday.

Cairns said: "Of course he is even more in demand. I hope he will put another notch on the cricket bat or two – or even three.We have the best cricket management that I have ever seen and the best bunch of young players that I have ever had the privilege to work with."

Regaining their Test venue status may also help persuade Moores to stay at Old Trafford rather than returning to international cricket. He said: "It puts Lancashire back on the map to where it should be. The club are now speaking to me [about a new contract] and sorting it out."

One man not staying on is Mark Chilton, who has decided the title-winning campaign which has just ended will be his last.

The batsman, who captained the Red Rose club between 2005 and 2007 and has been with the county for 14 years in total, played 433 matches for Lancashire, scoring 14,437 runs including 26 centuries and 60 half-centuries before today confirming his retirement from first-class cricket. Chilton said: "It has been an honour and a privilege to have represented my county for 14 years. It has been a tough decision to retire from the game I love so much but I believe the time is right for me to begin a new chapter in my life."