England and Australia risk Ashes 2013 overkill | England and Australia risk Ashes overkill with 11 Tests in seven months
England and Australia risk Ashes 2013 overkill: England and Australia will stage a 1970s revival of Ashes to Ashes in 2013, with back-to-back series for the first time in 38 years. If the teams meet in the semi-finals or final of the new ICC World Test Championship that is also likely to be played in England in the summer of 2013, international cricket’s oldest adversaries could play no fewer than 11 Tests inside seven months.
With England likely to host another Ashes series in the summer of 2015, it would represent an unprecedented glut that will lead to inevitable accusations of devaluing the rivalry. It will also bring a major financial boost to the England and Wales Cricket Board and should help them to ease the pressure being felt by the majority of the counties that stage international cricket, with a minimum of 10 Ashes Tests now available to be allocated in the space of three years.
The new Ashes dates, like the four-team play-off to be crowned world Test champions which is set for England in June 2013, have still to be finalised. But after details had been leaked by Cricket Australia overnight, Steve Elworthy, the ECB’s marketing director, confirmed they are likely – and denied they would represent too much of a good thing. “I believe the brand is strong enough, as we’ve seen this year,” he said.
Under the usual arrangements of Ashes series every two years, England would have been due to go to Australia in the winter of 2014-15. But with Australia due to host the ICC World Cup in the early months of February 2015, asportsnews.com that would have meant a stay of up to five months for the England players – and a repeat of the strains the team are currently showing, with little time to recover from their Ashes triumph before the start of the World Cup on the sub-continent.
The decision was therefore made that England would tour Australia a year early, in the winter of 2013-14. Ideally, the next home series would also have been brought forward from 2013 to 2012 to avoid the Ashes orgy. But the London Olympics made that impossible.
“It’s always been our aim to break that cycle of two huge events in the same winter,” Elworthy added in comments to ESPNcricinfo that he later reiterated to the Guardian. “To ensure that the teams have better preparation time for the World Cup, this is the only solution. But I also think it’s absolutely manageable.”
It means that far from being a dish best served cold, the losers of the next Ashes battle in England will now have the chance to take their revenge piping hot, with only a couple of months between the end of one series at The Oval and the start of the next in Brisbane – assuming the venues retain their traditional places in the increasingly crowded schedule.
There was a comparatively huge gap of five months between the last back-to-back Ashes series in 1974-75, providing a welcome respite for England’s batsmen when Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson were in their pomp – although not for Mike Denness, who was sacked as captain when his team followed the 4-1 thrashing in Australia that was completed in Melbourne in February with a heavy defeat in the first Test in Edgbaston in July.
“I haven’t seen the details but it sounds pretty heavy duty stuff,” said the former England coach Peter Moores, reflecting the likely concerns of his successor, Andy Flower about such an exacting schedule. “To be playing your showpiece series twice in quick succession without the gap in between would be tough and not necessarily the easiest sell – sometimes the gap in between can be part of the attraction.”
The major significance of the new proposals for Australia is to thrust their next home Ashes series to the beginning of the period for which they are currently negotiating a new television contract. There have been suggestions that Cricket Australia could be adversely affected by the significantly improved new deals that the major winter football codes, rugby league and Australian Rules, are expected to conclude over the next 12 months, especially after England’s dominance of the recent series. The ECB’s television deal with Sky expires after the 2013 Ashes series, so the shift in the next home series to 2015 is unlikely to make a huge difference. guardian News