Old Trafford wants end to Ashes heartache

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/c/cricgen3.jpg' class='caption'> Officials at Old Trafford are determined the ground will never miss out on staging an Ashes Test again.

Updated: August 30, 2009 13:48 IST
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Officials at Old Trafford are determined the ground will never miss out on staging an Ashes Test again thanks to a 70 million pounds plan to turn the ground into the "Lord's of the North".

Lancashire's headquarters, just a short walk from the Manchester United football ground of the same name, staged its first Ashes Test in 1884.

But this year it was controversially left off the list with Glamorgan's headquarters ground of Cardiff staging its first Test, the drawn Ashes opener of a series England went on to win 2-1, instead.

Lancashire though are determined to be back on the Ashes roster in time for Australia's next tour of England in 2013.

However, before then, Australia are due back in England next year for two Tests against Pakistan.

These have still to be allocated but Lancashire chief executive Jim Cumbes, speaking to reporters at the ground here today, ahead of the first Twenty20 between England and Australia, said: "We've certainly bid for it, we've gone in for it with both feet.

"Missing out on an Ashes Test this summer was a huge blow and we're determined to finish the ground in time to bid for and win one in 2013."

Cumbes admitted Old Trafford's facilities had become "old fashioned and out of date".

But Lancashire now have plans for a 70 million pounds redevelopment of their Old Trafford home.

That is part of an overall 200 million pounds plan which encompasses both Old Trafford and the surrounding area.

That incorporates a proposal from British supermarket giant Tesco to build a new store in the Stretford district of Manchester, one of the most deprived boroughs in England.

However, the scheme remains contingent upon planning permission being approved and Lancashire are due to put forward their plans for consideration in December.

The rise of Durham's Riverside ground and Hampshire's Rose Bowl, as well as Cardiff, has increased competition for prized international matches, with the six traditional English Test venues - Lord's and the Oval in London, Edgbaston and Trent Bridge in the Midlands and Old Trafford and Headingley in the north - having to raise their game.

"Bidding for Tests is now fiercely competitive," said Cumbes, himself a former Lancashire pace bowler. "But if the facilities here fall behind we will not be able to stage Test cricket and that would be tragic for the north-west."

Under the new plans, the square will be turned 180 degrees with the pitch, for the first time, lying north-south and in line with the pavilion.

"We've always said we want to be the Lord's of the north but that would be very ambitious because Lord's is quite exceptional," said Cumbes of a scheme that would leave the ground with a maximum capacity of 25,000 although for most of the time this would be capped at 15,000.

Under the new plans, players' will no longer walk out of the pavilion and past the members with their dressing rooms now moved to the opposite side of the ground.

The members' area in the pavilion has become known as 'the pit of hate', with Lancashire followers unafraid of sparing the players' feelings.

But former West Indies and Lancashire captain Clive Lloyd told AFP: "It's what you do in the middle that counts. They (the players) will still hear the boos on the other side."

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