We blame football and specifically the Champions League. The European Cup was a perfectly good competition, but UEFA and the leading clubs wanted more cash, so lo and behold eligibility was extended to sides finishing 2nd, 3rd or even 4th in their respective leagues and the cumbersome Group Stage was born. Tedium and money ensued.
Cricket soon followed suit. The World Cup may only come every four years, but the tournaments in South Africa and West Indies felt like they lasted that long. This year’s edition will feature 42 pointless matches before the real action starts in the quarter-finals.
Twenty 20 competitions around the world – particularly those in England and India have got longer and longer. There may be more money in the short-term, but eventually the patience of cricket fans will run out and attendances will fall – this is exactly what happened in last year’s FP T20 in England, which featured the mind-boggling torture of 151 matches.
The concept of less is more seems to be alien to cricket and football administrators alike. Rather than leaving their audiences wanting more, they leave them begging for the pain and torture to end.
But amidst all this overkill, at least there was the sacred Ashes. A five-Test series every two years was just perfect with plenty of time for anticipation to build and then the main event itself that always leaves you wanting an encore.
Until now that is.
Now we know that with the World Cup being held down under in 2015, staging an Ashes series in the same Australian summer wasn’t going to be viable. But rather than delaying the series by a year – meaning that the sequence would go England 2013, Australia 2015/16, England 2017, the greedy men in the ECB and Cricket Australia have come up with a doomsday scenario.
The result is a back to back Ashes series in 2013 – 10 Tests in six months. And then to compensate for what would be a three-and-a-half year gap until the next scheduled series in England in 2017, the men in suits are likely to sanction another series in England in 2015.
We love the Ashes – you may have noticed – but the prospect of back-to-back series is about as appealing as being trapped in a lift with Westlife and Simon Cowell.
Maybe its time for cricket fans to stage an Egyptian style revolt and unseat the faceless administrators that are ruining the game?
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