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Cutting it Fine

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Late Alterations to the Ashes Programme

Of the two alterations to England’s Ashes schedule in Australia, the timing and the sequencing, it is the sequencing that should prove far more important.

The tour begins one week earlier than originally planned, on 20 January; or, if you include the two warm-up matches, 12 days earlier.

Placing the three T20s first is crucial. It was always going to be a mammoth challenge playing the test first, the game for which players have the least practice. Now they can warm up with the shortest format and get themselves ready for innings that last hours longer and bowling spells that last dozens of overs longer.

Multi-format Points

Getting the points system right was a big problem from the moment it was introduced. Six points for the solitary test was proved to be excessive; but even the current four points mean the team losing the test has a lot of catching-up to do. But now it sits in the middle of the series, which makes a shade life fairer


The underlying cause of the changes is, almost inevitably, the pandemic. Both Cricket Australia and the ECB now recognise that the original schedule didn’t allow enough time between the Ashes and the World Cup in New Zealand. Now that a quarantine period will still be required on entry to NZ, the early start was the only answer.

The announcement comes a mere nine days before the first practice match, between an England side and an A side on 15 January. That is what you call cutting it fine.
Let’s hope the players and support staff had knowledge of the changes much earlier than the public.