ECB defend venue choices, Vaughan surprised

England

Former captain Michael Vaughan has questioned the allocation of venues, particularly Sophia Gardens in Wales, for next year's Ashes series across the United Kingdom.

Former captain Michael Vaughan has questioned the allocation of venues, particularly Sophia Gardens in Wales, for next year's Ashes series across the United Kingdom.

Monday saw the England Wales Cricket Board confirmed the first, second, third, fourth and fifth Tests will be played at picturesque, Cardiff ground, Lord's, Edgbaston, Trent Bridge and The Oval respectively.

Chester-le-Street in Durham, The Rose Bowl in Southampton and Old Trafford in Manchester have been overlooked. An ECB spokesman, meanwhile, insisted the team management, not the players, are consulted about the venue choices – and the order of the itinerary.

"The venues are decided by the Major Match Group, which works independently of the ECB. They use a balanced scorecard, and consider a variety of factors, like operational ability, what the venues do for the community, geography. Cardiff's staging of the 2009 Ashes opening Test was a great success," said the spokesperson.

"In regard to the northern venues, we do try to allocate Tests even-handedly over a four-year cycle. It might be that staging a Test versus India, for example, might be as lucrative for some venues as an Ashes Test."

Cardiff lost the right to host the West Indies in 2012 due to Glamorgan's inability to meet the deadline for the payment of the staging fee for a preceding fixture, which was marred by plenty of rain, with Sri Lanka.

"Cardiff is an okay venue. I am just surprised they kept their Ashes status after handing back the West Indies Test in 2012," tweeted Vaughan.

"My belief is that the coach, captain, management should choose the venues they feel give them the best chance of winning the Ashes."

The Australians are the current holders of the coveted title on the back of a five-nil series triumph earlier this year – on the back of fast bowler Mitchell Johnson's Player of the Series performance.

The English have since replaced head coach Andy Flower with Lancashire's Peter Moores and selector Ashley Giles with Nottinghamshire's Mick Newell, fired batting coach Graham Gooch – and hired former Sri Lanka head coach Paul Farbrace as assistant coach.

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