The excellent journalist, Scyld Berry (pronounced, I think, “Shild” – not “Skilled”. Although he is, very, skilled) writes the first (of many no dout) regarding the ECB, Sky/satellite TV and this summer’s Ashes.
Before the main event of Australia, we fans must suffer the ignominy of watching Bangladesh; a 2 Test series to honour our playing an Asian country, and which serves as scant preparation for England’s most important Test series since the last Ashes. I am unashamedly not in favour of minnows playing against the top teams of International cricket; it’s nothing but a waste of time for all involved (for what it’s worth, I’m of the opinion that if their standard fails to improve, there should be an international secondary division where minnows play eachother until such time as they reach a reasonable level of skill.) I don’t want to talk about that now, though.
In their infinite wisdom, the ECB – an organisation even more desperate to appear modern than Blair and his Labour party, and almost equally inept in carrying it out – have squashed The Ashes into the second-half of the summer. In short, this means back-to-back Tests – an unnecessary situation given the length of an English summer, and one which suits neither host or opposition.
This is all in the name of Satellite television, as Scyld points out:
The reason why our traditional Ashes summer has been mutilated is so that Sky can fill the football off-season with loads of one-day cricket, and the ECB – the first-class counties in all but name – have just been happy to take the money. The one point to be made for the next TV deal, aside from the money, is that starting next summer we just might have a balanced fixture list back.
Aside from the scheduling, he goes onto say how foreign players – in particular Australians – have been welcomed in with open arms. I have less of a problem with Australians playing here than I do with the “Kolpak regime.” However; the ECB and counties have played host to almost the entire Australian national squad. Off the top of my head, I can think of only Gilchrist and Gillespie and Lee who haven’t played county cricket. As such, they know the conditions and know how to bowl to us. Gone are the days of secrecy, suprise pitches and the fear of the unknown. God, the ECB is blinder than Blunkett…
The accompanying table shows how English cricket has opened its gates and invited the Trojan horse within its walls. Not just a single horse either. Hampshire on their own last season invited just about the entire Trojan cavalry inside when they accommodated Shane Warne, Simon Katich, Michael Clarke and Shane Watson, who could be selected for the final place in the Australian Test party on Monday ahead of Nathan Bracken or Shaun Tait.
Read on here