Back in the day an Ashes tour started in May after a herculean effort on the flight over and finished with the 6th test at The Oval in August. It consisted of four months of tour matches against Invitational XI’s at exotic locations like the traditional tour opener against the Duke of Norfolk’s XI at Arundle Castle (England’s answer to Perth’s Lilac Hill festival match so I’m lead to believe), tour matches against the lions share if not all of the 18 English county teams plus the MCC and one day games against Scotland and Ireland, even the Netherlands and Denmark, 3 day time ODI’s (played in whites of course) followed by 6 Tests against the Mother Country. Forgotten touring party members were a must (Brendon Julian made 2 Ashes tours!), obscure back up wicket keepers (Wade Secombe, 2001, Graham Manou, 2009), and even more obscure call up’s when injury hit the squad and any available Australian cricketer plying their trade in the Old Dart was a chance of a Test cap. Witness the bowl off between Shane Lee and Shaun Young in the tour match prior to the sixth test in 1997 which lead to Shaun Young becoming a member of the one test wonder club.
Coincidentally 1997 was the last ‘proper’ Ashes tour and yes they were playing ODI’s in England in whites in 1997!
In 2013 the Ashes tour will look as follows:
June 6 – June 23: Champions Trophy
June 7 – June 23: Australia A tour (consisting of 3 x 3/4 day tour matches for the test ‘specialists’)
June 26 – July 5: Two x 4 day tour matches
July 10 – August25 : 5 Tests
August 29 & 31: 2 T20I’s
September 3 – 16: 6 ODI’s (including one against Scotland)
And if you can still muster enthusiasm for more Ashes then England come to Australia the very next month – yes their tour of Australia kicks off just 6 weeks after the last ODI in England when they face WA on October 31. ( No traditional tour opener at Lilac Hill unfortunately)
Why are we having these back to back Ashes series I hear you ask? 10 tests, 11 ODIs and 5 T2o’s against the same opponent in just 6 months. The answer is the World Cup in Australia in March 2015 – this would be the same summer as an Ashes series if the current four year cycle was retained – and Australian can’t host an Ashes series and a World Cup in the same summer. [I’m still convinced this is the reason what should have been the 1991 World Cup ended up in 1992 so as not to clash with the 90/91 Ashes]
Not enough Ashes? Never fear we get to tour England again for another 5 tests in 2015! Yep stuff the usual 4 year cycle of Ashes in each country – an Ashes series every 2 years so to speak – let’s have 3 Ashes series in 2 years! Then the following Ashes in England will be in 2019 – the same summer that England hosts the World Cup! How the hell will that work?!? It’s the whole reason the Ashes cycle was changed in Australia!
Confused? I sure am. Is any of this necessary? The answer is of course no. The 2014/15 Ashes could simply have been moved to 2015/16 to avoid the Word Cup and the Ashes in England could have stayed on their current four year cycle ie 2009, 2013, 2017, etc. avoiding a clash with the 2019 World Cup. The reason for this surfeit of Ashes series, of course, is money. The result, of course, will be overkill.
Roll on the continuous Ashes!