England propose change in Ashes scheduling
In an effort to boost their chances of winning the World Cup, the England Cricket Board (ECB) has proposed a change in the scheduling of the Ashes series in future, suggesting that it be brought forward by a year to give them more time to plan for the World Cup.
Traditionally, England and Australia play each other on a home and away basis every four years and the ECB is in negotiations with their counterparts, Cricket Australia, to break the cycle. England last toured Australia in 2002-03, just months before the World Cup in 2003, and failed to get past the group stages following the exhaustive Australian tour, which included five Tests and the tri-nation VB Series. England head back to Australia next month in a bid to defend the Ashes for the first time in 20 years, just three months before the World Cup in the West Indies. While England have performed creditably as a Test side in the recent past, beating Pakistan 3-0 at home recently, their performance as a one-day team has been a cause for concern, having lost ten of their last 15 games.
"We have been looking at how we can break that cycle," David Collier, the ECB chairman was quoted as saying by AFP. "It is something we are talking to Australia about - whether we can have a different cycle. The idea would be to bring it [the Ashes] forward by one year on a one-off basis."
Collier explained that a change would enable Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, to plan better and identify key players suited for either format of the game.
"At the moment the Ashes and the World Cup come in the same cycle and if you talk to the coach Duncan Fletcher his goals are twin - the Ashes and the World Cup," he added. "But if we had the Ashes one year and the World Cup the next year you'd be trying to peak certain one-day players at different times. You would also end up having two slightly different sides."