Four four-day matches were offered: Cricket Australia official January 6, 2007

'England refused extra warm-up games'

Cricinfo staff

England's lack of preparation ahead of the Ashes has been a talking point all series © Getty Images

England refused the chance to play 16 days of warm-up matches before their ill-fated Ashes defence, according to Bob Merriman, the former Cricket Australia chairman. Merriman, who remains a director of Cricket Australia, said England had been offered the opportunity to play four four-day games before the first Test.

Instead, they played three matches - none of which had first-class status - totalling only seven days and suggestions they were under-prepared plagued the tourists all series. Merriman was quoted in The Times as saying the England players opted for a shorter build-up after completing the Champions Trophy in India, even though Australia were prepared to push back the start date of the first Test to accommodate the extra fixtures.

"We thought they would come straight from India rather than go home," Merriman said. "Apparently, though, their players didn't want to. We offered them four four-day matches before the first Test, beginning in Sydney, then Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane."

John Carr, the ECB's director of operations, said Merriman's claims were incorrect. "The truth is that Cricket Australia actually made us pay for our first day in Australia [which is against the usual protocol] on the basis that we were having a longer lead-in period to the first Test than they received on the 2005 tour of England," Carr told the paper.

"Their proposed arrival date for us was actually a day later than we got there so we could not physically have fitted in four four-day matches in the period that they were prepared to host us, which was for 18 days before the first Test. As for cancelling the one-day game in Canberra, it was a major Cricket Australia requirement because, politically, the match against the Prime Minister's XI is a very important fixture for them."