CA confident seven-game England series will work
Sydney Morning Herald
Monday November 30, 2009
THIS summer might lack instant appeal, but Cricket Australia is planning a radical change to next summer's international fixture, in which the quest to regain the Ashes will be preceded by one-dayers in November and, later in the season, a maligned seven-game, head-to-head ODI series for the first time in Australia.Cricket Australia has been forced to divide the Test and limited-overs component of the summer because there is insufficient time to stage two ODI series of five games each - as has been the practice since the triangular format was abandoned - before teams depart for the 2011 World Cup on the subcontinent. It means Australia will play a best-of-three ODI series against Sri Lanka in November, leading into the Ashes.The Herald has also learnt the draft fixture for next summer features a best-of-seven ODI contest between Australia and England late in the season, a series that is certain to draw criticism since the consensus among players, including Australian captain Ricky Ponting and his South African counterpart Graeme Smith, that seven matches in a bilateral series is too many and feeds the glut of meaningless games.This became a hot issue when Australia remained in England for seven ODIs after this year's Ashes and thumped Andrew Strauss's team 6-1; the last three games were dead rubbers. However, Cricket Australia's general manager of public affairs, Peter Young, said Australia's recent 4-2 series victory in India with an undermanned team was evidence that seven-game tournaments could be exciting."It's a balance and it is arguable as to what is the best number, but there is a significant public appetite for Australia-England cricket and we just played seven games in India which was one of the best series we have played in recent times. It also gives us the ability to spread games around the country," Young said.Australia has never hosted a seven-game ODI series because until two summers ago the triangular format had been a cornerstone of the season for more than a quarter of a century.Young believes three games against Sri Lanka to be a good way to launch the summer in a hotly anticipated Ashes year.CA boss James Sutherland has travelled to Dubai for a meeting of chief executives of Test-playing nations, at which the Future Tours Program beyond 2012 will again be thrashed out. Australia is hoping to host one of the major drawcards - India, England or South Africa - every season as opposed to hosting two low-profile Test nations as has happened this summer, with the West Indies and Pakistan in town for three Tests each.The summer got off to a poor start in Brisbane, where the West Indies were swept aside inside three days by an innings and 65 runs. The aggregate crowd of 37,352 was lower than the crowd for the first Test last November against New Zealand, which went to a fourth day, but substantially higher than the turnout for the first Test of the summer against Sri Lanka the season before that.CA claimed Channel Nine ratings were strong and said it was hopeful that Chris Gayle's team would be more competitive in Adelaide.