Cricket - Wisden editor worries that Ashes magic will be lost

Administrators in England and Australia have been warned that the prospect of three Ashes series in two years could mean "a little of the of the magic will be lost" by Wisden editor Lawrence Booth.

PA Sport
Cricket - Wisden editor worries that Ashes magic will be lost

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The editor of Wisden fears an Ashes overload based on the current schedule

Booth, taking charge of the little yellow book for the second time on the occasion of its 150th edition, uses his notes to draw light on a series of potential problems facing the game in the years to come. And there is no doubting the over-riding watchword: overkill.

Booth offers the opinion that Alastair Cook, just two Test series into life as England captain, may not be able to lead the side for long if current schedules are maintained and also skewers the increasingly institutionalised policy of player rotation in the international game.

But, most eye-catchingly just three months away from the start of the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, he writes in concerned tones about the sustainability of interest in the iconic series.

After the five-match rubber is contested on these shores, just a few short months separate England's return visit Down Under and if 10 consecutive matches between the old enemies is not enough, Australia are back for five more in 2015.

"By the end of the 2015 Ashes, the Australians will have visited this country for bilateral series five summers out of seven," writes Booth. "Part of the charm of the big series resides in its sense of occasion. But 10 straight Ashes Tests from July to January will be less of an occasion, more of a routine.

"And if the cycle of two series against Australia every four years was to spare England winters containing both an Ashes and a World Cup then no such excuse can be made for Australia's swift return here in 2015. Not since the start of the 20th century, when only three sides played Test cricket, have 15 Ashes matches been crammed into so short a span.

"Over the next three years, one of the most durable encounters in all sport will be stretched to its limit. Administrators will point to full houses as proof that all is well. But a little of the magic will be lost."

On a related theme, the editor also comes down unsympathetically on the rest and rotation programmes that currently prevail in a bid to counteract the effects of too much cricket.

"You wonder about the point of it all if, fitness permitting, teams are disinclined to field their strongest side - basic principle of international sport which, thanks to the schedule, has been made to look like a hopeless ideal.

"When cricket's talent has to job-share to stay awake at the wheel, you know something is wrong."

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