Wisden slams Ashes schedule - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wisden slams Ashes schedule

By Paul Mulvey 06/04/2005 07:21:15 PM Comments (0)

Cricketing bible Wisden has accused England's officials of downgrading this year's Ashes series in favour of inflexible television contracts.

Wisden editor Matthew Engel said Australia's drawn out tour schedule which includes two one-day series before the first Test was madness.

The Australians arrive in England in early June but won't play a Test until six weeks later on July 21 at Lord's, with the fifth and final match starting at The Oval on September 8.

Before the most anticipated Ashes series since Australia won back the urn in 1989, the tourists will play at least nine one-day internationals, including a triangular tournament involving England and Bangladesh and another series against the English.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has a lucrative deal with Rupert Murdoch's Sky television which broadcasts one-day cricket and wants the matches played in June and July.

Engel described the upcoming season as "an absolutely lip smacking prospect" with an opportunity to take advantage of a rare two month break from soccer to capture the attention of the English media and public.

"And what better way than a potentially close Ashes series?" he wrote in Wisden's 2005 almanac.

"But no. Locked into an inflexible TV schedule and an even more inflexible mindset, the ECB have come up with something else.

"They are filling the entire second half of June - traditional time for the Lord's Ashes Test - with a tournament dedicated to the thrilling proposition of discovering the two best one-day teams out of England, Australia and Bangladesh.

"The Ashes will not even start until July 21 (when football is limbering up earlier than usual to make room for the 2006 World Cup) and will not finish until September 12, deep into the football season and, very likely, the weather that did for the Champions Trophy.

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