Prepare For the Ashes By Not Playing?

Has anybody else noticed how little preparation Australia’s Test cricketers will have for the Ashes?

I mean, like, almost none.

Australia started out very well in India, winning the First Test in Pune in February against all expectations and fighting hard to stand at 1-1 going into the Fourth Test in Dharamsala in the last week of March 2017. In that match, it all proved too much and Australia fell in a heap to lose the series 2-1.

Afterwards, most of the Australians went off to the IPL. Most then showed up at the Champions Trophy but their heads were obviously not in the game and they crashed out (much like South Africa).

Since then, there has been no cricket for the Aussies.

Instead, the players have been entangled in a bitter pay dispute with Cricket Australia (CA) that has dragged on for months. Claims by the likes of Smith and Warner that they were not distracted by the bizarre fight with CA are simply not believable (but they could hardly say otherwise publicly).

So what remains before the Ashes? A brief tour to Bangladesh, where the Australians will play two Tests. Now, the Bangladeshis are a much improved side, and playing on their home turf could be a real handful. In fact, if Australia does not look out, I would not be surprised to see them get beaten. But the point I’m making is that it’s only two Tests. It’s not a lot of match practice, and the conditions will be utterly dissimilar to what they will face back home in Australia.

After Bangladesh, Australia has no Test cricket to play between 8 September and 23 November. An ODI tour to India is allegedly planned, but the details don’t seem to be available yet. And anyway, what value is there in a tour that includes only ODI matches?

Meanwhile, England has just played a four Test series against South Africa and is about to commence a three Test series against West Indies.

By the time the coin is tossed at the First Ashes Test in Brisbane, Australia will have played two Test matches in eight months.

England will have played seven Tests across two series.

I notice the England press is lamenting the instability of the England top order but I suspect they can afford to be a little more sanguine as Australia currently has similar issues to wrestle with. And if one excludes the top order batting issues, there are other areas in which the England team is looking more formidable than Australia (more about that in the next post).

For now, though, if Australia loses in Brisbane, I can already see the headlines:

“Why did Australia play virtually no Test cricket in the eight months before the Ashes?”

And yet every summer the cricketers say their schedule is too busy and they’re playing too much cricket.

I don’t get it.


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