ICL: Indian Cricket League

Ashes series in 2009 may have six Tests


Cricket’s golden contest, the Ashes, could become even more lucrative with officials seriously considering adding a sixth Test to the 2009 tour.

While Cricket Australia’s (CA) preference for six Tests in Australia in 2010-11 has been known for a year, it’s now emerged Australia’s next tour could also become a marathon slog. The last time there was a six-Test series was in 1997 when the trip lasted four months.

The 2001 and ‘05 series were officially shortened because of a crowded international schedule, but there was some feeling the Ashes had lost its lustre because Australia by that stage had won easily for a decade.

That changed with England’s breakthrough success in 2005 and, in spite of last summer’s drubbing, the next series is expected to be a close-fought campaign as Australia goes through a rebuilding period.

Cricket Australia public affairs manager Peter Young confirmed that discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had begun about adding a sixth Test in ‘09.

“The discussion is still alive at all levels from chairman to chairman, from chief executive to chief executive,” Young said. “Our preference in an ideal world is to play six Tests in an Australian summer, but we are aware of the problems England has in the structure of its summer. It’s still some time off before we are due to go there,” he added.

CA is keen to have an extra Ashes Test in Hobart because it wants to ensure all major cities get to share in the excitement — and wealth — cricket’s most prestigious series generates. Last summer’s unprecedented interest helped to generate $120.6 million for CA, an increase of $41.1 million on the previous year.

The series was also a boon to local economies, generating $317 million and creating 793 jobs, while 37,000 international visitors flooded in to the country.

A stumbling block to an extended Ashes campaign in England is that it would mean the England and Wales Cricket Board could not schedule a short series against another country in the same summer to help fulfil its commitments under the Future Tours Programme (FTP).

England played Bangladesh in two Tests in ‘05 before taking on Australia. If that issue can be solved, the axing this week of the tri-nations series from next summer would help six Ashes Tests to be held in Australia because the length of the overall tour would be cut. England took issue with last year’s heavy schedule as it meant players had about a week off between a three-and-a-half month Australian tour and a two-month World Cup campaign.

Source:Cricket News

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