Lancashire push their Ashes bid
Old Trafford's future is much brighter after the Court of Appeal's ruling to allow their development to go ahead, but Lancashire now face another crucial decision later this season when the ECB allocate the remaining Ashes Tests for 2013.
The club have made their submission to the board along with other interested counties and will make a presentation at Lord's on August 2 before the final decision is reached by the Major Match Group in September. Now that approval has been given for the full-scale redevelopment of Old Trafford, the club are confident they can secure a match against Australia, who they last hosted in 2005.
"We have talked about being a model Test match ground and we tick every box," Jim Cumbes, the Lancashire chief executive, said. "I don't think even Lord's ticks every box."
Although the drawn-out legal process to gain permission to renovate has finally ended, there has been a fall-out for Lancashire as the funding from the North West Development Agency has been cut by £2million due to the delays in the commencement of work on the stadium. There was a fear the money would be withdrawn altogether which would have left the club with huge problems.
"The delays created problem with funding; we lost £2m off our grant and nearly lost it all," Cumbes said. "It was £7.2 million and they were going to take it all away, but we ended up convincing them that if we didn't get the grant we couldn't go ahead with the development so got it down to five million."
Four floodlights are now in place at the ground and the next stage of construction will be the new player and media facilities at the Brian Statham End. The whole project is due to be completed by April 2013, a few months before the club hope to host the Ashes Test. There is also the prospect of the naming rights to the ground being sold, although Cumbes said the Old Trafford brand would need to remain.
Since the Court of Appeal judgement Lancashire have been inundated with messages of support from around the world. "I've been astonished by the support we've had," Cumbes said. "New Zealand, Australia, India, Singapore on Tuesday."
For Cumbes himself it marks the end of a battle that has seen him delay his retirement by two years to help fight the legal battles, but he won't be staying on to see the completion of the building work. "That's me finished at the end of this year," he said. "We've got to where we need to be."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo