India in England 2014 July 7, 2014

ECB profit could be England's loss

The visit of India will swell the coffers of English cricket but there could be a greater cost in the long term
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'Getting Kohli in early is key' - Broad

Cricket is no longer measured in terms of victories and defeats. Not predominantly, anyway. It is measured in terms of profit and loss.

How else could it come to pass that two middle-ranking Test teams would come to carve up the management of the cricket world? How else could it come to pass that, while the 2012 series between South Africa and England to decide the No. 1 Test spot was played over just three Tests, the world's fourth- and fifth-rated sides will now contest a five-match series in the space of 42 days? How else could it come to pass that the same business plan that has earned the ECB more money than ever before is also responsible for hindering the ability of its team to compete at their optimum level?

It is because cricket in England is about money, not merit.

The summer of 2014 will earn the ECB more money than any that has preceded it. Such is the value of the television audience that India generates, the season will earn even more than 2013, when England hosted an Ashes series and a Champions Trophy. That is despite one side having not won in eight successive Tests and the other having not won away in more than three years. If this were a boat race, you might expect both sides to sink.

There are many positive aspects of the ECB's wealth. It has allowed them to retain the services of their best players despite the threat of T20 leagues. It has allowed them to retain an army of support staff so large that, at times, they outnumber the playing squad. It has allowed the ECB to lead the world in the funding of disability cricket and to bring a new level of professionalism to women's cricket. It has allowed them to spend heavily on grass-roots cricket; building new facilities at clubs around the country and ensuring the continued existence of the 18-county domestic game.

But it also comes at a cost. By squeezing so many Tests into such a short window, the ECB is giving England's leading pace bowlers - the same bowlers that present the best chance of victory - little possibility of performing at their best. And, in the longer term, it risks those players in greatest demand leaving the game prematurely through burn-out (Jonathan Trott) or injury (Graeme Swann). In 2015, those players - and coaches - involved in all formats will spend around 300 days in hotels. Too much is asked of them.

Equally, the desire - an admirable desire - to ensure as little time off the pitch as possible has seen new drainage installed at most grounds. That has led not just to quick-drying outfields, but quick-drying pitches. The days of green seamers are largely gone and, with them, England's home advantage. India may not have realised it yet, but the pitches in this series may help their spinners more than England's seamers.

Across English cricket, decisions are taken which bring short-term financial gain but will cost in the longer term. From selling all live TV rights to a subscription broadcaster, to diluting the value of the Ashes by playing too many limited-overs series against Australia, the ECB is risking the long-term health of the game while claiming it is earning more than ever before. The administrators need to understand that sport, like schools and hospitals, cannot be judged purely on the bottom line.

Eventually there is a danger that, if England continue to play on low, slow wickets, if they continue to play jaded cricket, if they continue to be absent from free-to-air TV, if they continue to lose and play the same opposition, the value of broadcast rights and ticket sales will diminish. But, by then, the current management will have moved on and will be able to look back and say that all was okay on their watch.

They were points touched upon, albeit gently, by Stuart Broad as he looked ahead to the Test series. Broad, who looked weary by the end of the two-Test series against Sri Lanka, expressed his concern at the schedule and the grounds' new drainage.

"If the pitches are dry, I think India will be licking their lips with the two spinners, won't they?"
Stuart Broad

"Back-to-back Test cricket does really tire you out," Broad said. "This schedule's got five Test matches in the space of probably three, so it is pretty hectic. We will have to look after our bodies, big time. Part of the reason we had a camp last week was to get a lot of cricket work in before the series started. Once we get underway there's just no training time really.

"The clubs have all spent huge money on all these drainage systems to make sure we can get out on the field. But I don't know how much research was done into what they do to the pitches. I know our players, three or four years ago, brought the theory up that they were making the wickets too dry, too early and it is quite hard to keep bounce in the wickets now unless you leave them really green, which Test match wickets just don't do.

"So it is a bit of an issue we're suffering, with pitches bouncing three or four times to the keeper. I think Test wickets should be flat, no doubt, because the crowds want to come and see runs scored. But if you catch the edge of a batsman it's got to carry to the keeper and the slips, that's the number one rule.

"It didn't happen at Lord's and Headingley. They turned out to be really slow and both really should have been draw wickets. It will be interesting to see how this series plays out. But, if they're dry, I think India will be licking their lips with the two spinners, won't they?"

It seems they may not. Perhaps influenced by Duncan Fletcher's previous experience of English pitches - which might prove to be somewhat dated - it seems India may select a side bursting with seamers and with only one spinner.

In the short term, England may retain the seam-bowling depth to defeat an India side who have not won a single Test away since June 2011. In the longer term, if they really want to enjoy a sustained period among the best teams in the world, they need the ECB to devise a new business plan that looks to the benefit of the whole game, not just the bottom line.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Electric_L0ser_Wacko on | July 9, 2014, 3:14 GMT

    @ Posted by Greatest_Game on (July 8, 2014, 8:09 GMT) - "Behold" - so says the supporter of a team who were supposed to be steam rolling us in their own backyard the last time we visited and yet - managed to chicken out and satiate with a draw in the first test..with their best fast bowler going wicket less for 200+.. wow - eat some humble pie.

  • POSTED BY ra56 on | July 8, 2014, 18:22 GMT

    i agree why country like southafrica produced qulity sides than england since readmission i am inndian but i like to england crusg sa regularly. country like sa should not have strong team than england

  • POSTED BY indianzen on | July 8, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    great article George... you just typed the sad state of ECB..

  • POSTED BY Triple_A on | July 8, 2014, 13:32 GMT

    I completely agree with anyone that say SA is the team to beat - it has been the case for the past decade.

    But readers have to look at the underlying causes for this. SA play significantly fewer test and ODI than England, Aus or India every year. They have different squads for different formats of the game - Steyn has played only a handful of ODI and that too only in the main tournaments. SA main strength is their bowling and they provide more than ample rest for their strike bowlers by playing a limited # of matches. India or England is not blame if CSA wont organise longer test tours or more matches in each year!

    India runs on a different model - their main strength is batting, but you never see Kohli and Dhoni being rested for more than 2-3 matches in a year, if any. A core of 8-9 players play all three formats, and then there is the IPL and CLT20. The economics of the sport is different in that country - the sponsors dont allow the main players to rest. Its perspective, guys!!

  • POSTED BY on | July 8, 2014, 13:28 GMT

    Thank you George, for saying what needed to be said. There is absolutely no point in building up "grass roots" cricket unless 1. the English team are winning, 2. the kids can watch them win on free-to-air. Mr Clarke and his cronies seem to overlook the fact that unless England are being successful, their own management of English cricket must be deemed a failure.

  • POSTED BY Triple_A on | July 8, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    @Greatest_Game, eloquence in words will only get you so far. You have to make economic sense to function as a rational individual in the world today. I don't know what I can say if you dont believe in market forces and trends. I feel like I am arguing with a cat - I give you rational reasons why as to why England would want to play India for 5 tests and all you do is purr, and people get happy.

    As for playing SA, it is not India's call when SA dont want to tour as often, or play other countries enough. Other than the last series, where there were legit reasons for a curtailed tour - Sachin's retirement, a change of sponsor at the end of 2013 and communication breakdown between CSA and the BCCI - India has readily played SA. They have been instrumental in their return in 1991/92 and have been giving the team good competition in the last few series (2010, 2011, 2013). Seriously, find logical reasons to back your claims, and not spend hours in the thesaurus.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | July 8, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    @neil9, quite correct tours lasted a number of weeks, but in that time the teams generally played as many games as they do in terms of tests. I remember in the 1980's you would have 6 tests starting in June and completing by the End of august, with a Rest day after Day 3 and a weekend break between tests, ODI cricket was an after thought of 3/4 games, and there was no T20.

    A fast bowler with a 30yrd run up will bowl 40-50 overs/test, that's 7-9Km, that's 35-40Km in a 5 test series. Add on training, running around in the field etc and they can easily cover 70-100km.

    On tour its even worse as there are a lot less ways to get away from the game at home they can go home between tests and see family and relax,

  • POSTED BY IndiaNumeroUno on | July 8, 2014, 11:20 GMT

    Only a few weeks back everyone was complaining that ICC is not doing enough to save test cricket citing that most series only have 2 or 3 test matches... so now we get a 5 test match series... and guess what?.. people are still complaining...!!

  • POSTED BY steve48 on | July 8, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    Feels strange to be saying this, but please read Derek Pringle on Ali Cook in yesterday's DT!

  • POSTED BY ladycricfan on | July 8, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    If they play less Test matches and favour more ODIs for financial reasons you can complain. Do you have to complain now when they play more Test matches?

    Rankings doesn't dictate the length of the series. One thing it fluctuates. Other thing is any series will attract viewers if it is competitive and exciting. Even the recently concluded series between WI v NZ was very competitive. If they had a better fan base they could also afford a 5-match test series.

  • POSTED BY Electric_L0ser_Wacko on | July 9, 2014, 3:14 GMT

    @ Posted by Greatest_Game on (July 8, 2014, 8:09 GMT) - "Behold" - so says the supporter of a team who were supposed to be steam rolling us in their own backyard the last time we visited and yet - managed to chicken out and satiate with a draw in the first test..with their best fast bowler going wicket less for 200+.. wow - eat some humble pie.

  • POSTED BY ra56 on | July 8, 2014, 18:22 GMT

    i agree why country like southafrica produced qulity sides than england since readmission i am inndian but i like to england crusg sa regularly. country like sa should not have strong team than england

  • POSTED BY indianzen on | July 8, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    great article George... you just typed the sad state of ECB..

  • POSTED BY Triple_A on | July 8, 2014, 13:32 GMT

    I completely agree with anyone that say SA is the team to beat - it has been the case for the past decade.

    But readers have to look at the underlying causes for this. SA play significantly fewer test and ODI than England, Aus or India every year. They have different squads for different formats of the game - Steyn has played only a handful of ODI and that too only in the main tournaments. SA main strength is their bowling and they provide more than ample rest for their strike bowlers by playing a limited # of matches. India or England is not blame if CSA wont organise longer test tours or more matches in each year!

    India runs on a different model - their main strength is batting, but you never see Kohli and Dhoni being rested for more than 2-3 matches in a year, if any. A core of 8-9 players play all three formats, and then there is the IPL and CLT20. The economics of the sport is different in that country - the sponsors dont allow the main players to rest. Its perspective, guys!!

  • POSTED BY on | July 8, 2014, 13:28 GMT

    Thank you George, for saying what needed to be said. There is absolutely no point in building up "grass roots" cricket unless 1. the English team are winning, 2. the kids can watch them win on free-to-air. Mr Clarke and his cronies seem to overlook the fact that unless England are being successful, their own management of English cricket must be deemed a failure.

  • POSTED BY Triple_A on | July 8, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    @Greatest_Game, eloquence in words will only get you so far. You have to make economic sense to function as a rational individual in the world today. I don't know what I can say if you dont believe in market forces and trends. I feel like I am arguing with a cat - I give you rational reasons why as to why England would want to play India for 5 tests and all you do is purr, and people get happy.

    As for playing SA, it is not India's call when SA dont want to tour as often, or play other countries enough. Other than the last series, where there were legit reasons for a curtailed tour - Sachin's retirement, a change of sponsor at the end of 2013 and communication breakdown between CSA and the BCCI - India has readily played SA. They have been instrumental in their return in 1991/92 and have been giving the team good competition in the last few series (2010, 2011, 2013). Seriously, find logical reasons to back your claims, and not spend hours in the thesaurus.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | July 8, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    @neil9, quite correct tours lasted a number of weeks, but in that time the teams generally played as many games as they do in terms of tests. I remember in the 1980's you would have 6 tests starting in June and completing by the End of august, with a Rest day after Day 3 and a weekend break between tests, ODI cricket was an after thought of 3/4 games, and there was no T20.

    A fast bowler with a 30yrd run up will bowl 40-50 overs/test, that's 7-9Km, that's 35-40Km in a 5 test series. Add on training, running around in the field etc and they can easily cover 70-100km.

    On tour its even worse as there are a lot less ways to get away from the game at home they can go home between tests and see family and relax,

  • POSTED BY IndiaNumeroUno on | July 8, 2014, 11:20 GMT

    Only a few weeks back everyone was complaining that ICC is not doing enough to save test cricket citing that most series only have 2 or 3 test matches... so now we get a 5 test match series... and guess what?.. people are still complaining...!!

  • POSTED BY steve48 on | July 8, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    Feels strange to be saying this, but please read Derek Pringle on Ali Cook in yesterday's DT!

  • POSTED BY ladycricfan on | July 8, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    If they play less Test matches and favour more ODIs for financial reasons you can complain. Do you have to complain now when they play more Test matches?

    Rankings doesn't dictate the length of the series. One thing it fluctuates. Other thing is any series will attract viewers if it is competitive and exciting. Even the recently concluded series between WI v NZ was very competitive. If they had a better fan base they could also afford a 5-match test series.

  • POSTED BY baghels.a on | July 8, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    I fully agree with Sray23, international model has not worked in Cricket maybe only India has benefited from it, Cricket should take a leaf out of football, everybody no doubt loves to see countries like Brazil,Spain,Germany in action but apart from marquee events like World Cups,Euros and qualifiers to reach there you don't see these national teams indulging in bilateral series and end up playing 30-40 matches in a season,that job is done by all the clubs who make up various football leagues like EPL,La Liga,Budensliga,Serie A etc.Football authorities realised very early on that national team is very elitist in nature as only select few are chosen where as a football league with 20 clubs employ 400-500 players at a time.Look at all the first class domestic teams in Cricket they are just mere feeders to the national team and have become non entities.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 8, 2014, 10:25 GMT

    This will be a good, happy and cheerful England summer for India, Anyone saying otherwise is just too polite to England cricket team..

  • POSTED BY First_Drop on | July 8, 2014, 10:22 GMT

    @Mr_ICC - I'm sure you're making a great point, but it was completely unfathomable.

    @lodd - 350000 people in your area playing cricket represents about 30% of all regsisted cricketers in England. Are you sure of your numbers?

    18 counties run English cricket. In Australia, you have 6 states playing each other. This ensures that the talent is not spread too thinly between a large number of teamsm, and that the best bats and bowlers in the country are continually tested against each other. And they are also the no.1 side in thwe world.

    SA have nowehre near as much money for crciket as the English, and yet they have continually put out better teams than England since re-admittance.

  • POSTED BY on | July 8, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    @Greatest-Game, Pakistan played South Africa throughout last year, yes we lost badly in the test series and only managed to Draw with them t home but eventually we beat them in the ODI's. Please also know that UAE is not Pakistan's home, yes we are allowed to prepare any pitch we want but we do not draw strength from it like we did in Karachi or Lahore.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 8, 2014, 10:12 GMT

    @Yorkshirepudding- There is not just ex-pat contract workers from India who lives in England, There are lots of doctors, engineers, enterpreneurs and scientists of Indian origin live there too.. So they all would come to support India not just ex-pat contract workers as you has generalised all Indians living in England.. And you're talking big right now but get ready to become humble as well as India can and will beat you this summer.. Talk is cheap and we will prove it.. Just let the series begin..

  • POSTED BY First_Drop on | July 8, 2014, 10:00 GMT

    @lodd: The aussies seem to be able to provide an excellent cricket system whilst maintaining Cricket on free to air TV. And they consistently produce better cricketers.

  • POSTED BY Mr_ICC on | July 8, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    @Greatest_Game - Your so called 'Milestone Team' SA can't even win a World Cup on their own play ground (remember the first T20 cup who won it and where it was won?). Talk about TV audiences one must visit the America's during the IPL season you shall witness the reality instead of hearsay. If the BCCI has been successful in making the non-cricketing countries made aware of Dhoni, Kohli, Rohit and Shikhar you shall learn from them rather not criticize them. You must listen what Messi has to say about Dhoni and Virat.

  • POSTED BY on | July 8, 2014, 9:05 GMT

    I am surprised england are talking about Indian spinners. Trust god, George, Jadeja and As win are rubbish for test matches they are T 20/ ODI specialists. England this series won't lose to Indian bowling.

  • POSTED BY John-Price on | July 8, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    The key is not generating money for private consumption, rather it is the 18 County system. The Counties determine who runs the ECB and are all wholly dependent on international cricket for their survival. Even so they are far from rich, they are just about able to muddle along. As long as they continue to run English cricket, the International game will be milked for every penny it can muster. If that meant playing ten test against Australia and ten against India every year, they would go for it.

  • POSTED BY Narkovian on | July 8, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    I agree 5 Tests in 6 weeks is too many. Should be about 7-8 weeks. Also having so much International cricket is ridiculous. Spending 300 days a year in hotels is mind-bogglingly awful. No wonder people crack-up. No one can even remember who beat whom in most of these ODI/T20 series anyway. BUT... I don't believe that players should be that tired out after 5 Tests in 6 weeks. Jaded yes, tired - NO. In days gone by, players in England played a Test then went straight back to their county and played 2 or 3 county games before the next Test. They bowled thousands of overs per season. Far more overs in a season than any of the present day players, who spend most of their time in the gym. That alone is a recipe for boredom and jadedness. .

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | July 8, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    @ Mr_ICC comments that "... the writer thinks that playing SA is a milestone but playing India is sub-standard for the English team."

    Playing South Africa IS a milestone - for India and England. That is because South Africa beat them all the time. India does not even have a winning record in tests at home against SA. SA have won as many tests in India as India have.

    India is not sub-standard for the English team. Not at all. But India is sub standard when compared to South Africa, or Australia. India will not play a 5 test series against SA.Why? Do India think they are so special that they cannot stoop to a 5 test series with SA, or do India just not want to get hammered 5 times? India know they have a 50/50 chance of losing AT HOME against SA. In SA India's record IS sub-standard.

    Yes - playing SA is a milestone, because India & Eng can't beat SA!

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | July 8, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    @SirViv197, I did mean the Champions Trophy, get them mixed up with the Euro football competitions.

    The only reason the ICC did that is because the Boards led by the BCCI put pressure on for that to happen. I believe you're right that is the prime reason the season is so short,

    @Darkmanx12155, that's the quote of the day.

  • POSTED BY lodd on | July 8, 2014, 7:44 GMT

    Good debate. Though once again, the TV deal gets a mention . Any ideas where the finance of the game as a whole would come from ? Clubs now finding difficulty with the number of youngsters attending Clubs ...more Coaches needed and much more finance needed at grass roots. Whole Club system needs dismantling and revamping My area..350000 people , 7 cricket teams all trying to put out 3 teams on Saturdays and Sundays ....total nonsense

  • POSTED BY BradmanBestEver on | July 8, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    Yet more solid evidence of the dire state of English cricket, namely the focus on money rather than performance.

    It is sad that England are on the way down. Such is life

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | July 8, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    @Mr_ICC, no you do have the wrong end of the stick, I am not a fan of Mr Dobells writing, but he is pointing out that the Number one slot in 2012 was determined by a 3 test series, YET we have the 4th and 5th Ranked teams playing a 5 test series.

    I do agree that there is an inference, and as I stated the article doesn't make clear that this series was scheduled and Agreed on over 12 months ago when England were 2nd and India 3rd, with Aus at 4.

    The original tour was pencilled in at the start of the current FTP cycle 2 years ago an it was a 5 series tour then, check out the FTP which shows the number of tests played by each team UPTO 2020, who knows who is going to be Number 1 In 6 years, take 2018 its feasible for Pakistan to be number 1 by then but they only have a 2 test series.

  • POSTED BY Darkmanx12155 on | July 8, 2014, 7:31 GMT

    india will win easily with ishanth picking 200 test wickets!

  • POSTED BY SirViv1973 on | July 8, 2014, 7:27 GMT

    @Yorkshire Pudding, Do you mean Champions league rather than Champions Trophy? It's not just a question of the BCCI wanting their players avaiable for that nonsense. In it's infinite wisdom the ICC granted a window for this event so no interntional cricket can take place during the duration of the tournament. This is probably the major factor in this series having to be so compacted.

  • POSTED BY latecut_04 on | July 8, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    yes definitely this is going to be a pain for English spectators..by the end of 2nd test everyone will lose interest..(just remember 2011 series.)and the 5th test will be a yawn with India just turning up and losing...who will pay to watch Dhoni bowling????

  • POSTED BY Mr_ICC on | July 8, 2014, 6:58 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding i am not getting the wrong end of anything...and I clearly understand the frustration of the writer. What irks me more is the writer thinks that playing SA is a milestone but playing India is sub-standard for the English team. And if you talk about money everyone requires it, like the ECB i am sure the BCCI looks forward to hone its talents, build more stadiums and cricketing schools. Like I said if the writer thinks playing the No.1 team is an achievement play with them for the rest of your lives. Rankings are superficial, it is not the ranking that will save you from a loss but ur effort and hardwork on that given day. This is the same sub-standard Indian team you claim that WON the Champions Trophy on the English Soil Last Year.

  • POSTED BY milepost on | July 8, 2014, 6:49 GMT

    5 tests for 4 vs 5? No one even watches test matches in India, how could the TV rights be worth anything? @Cricindia208 "it's a matter of time before India return to number 1". I'd agree, I'd say it's an extremely long time before either of these sides can challenge Australia or SA. India should have ended Cooks captaincy by the end of the 2nd test.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | July 8, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    @natarsx, very true in regards to both teams, we might see a good even series.

    I don't think you are correct that broad is 'crying' about It what hes saying is that there is too much emphasis on getting games in to day 5 for revenue rather than on getting results, Making flat wickets will kill test cricket, some of the most exciting games have been low scoring with batsmen having to dig in. This is where T20 and ODI's have harmed test cricket fan 'expect' often 'demand' fireworks from batsmen when Test cricket isn't about that its about being tested in different conditions, and if all wickets are the same where is the test?

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | July 8, 2014, 6:37 GMT

    @ Greatest_Game on (July 8, 2014, 4:32 GMT): an excellent post. I have seldom come across a comment that is as insightful as yours. Wisdom (and implicitly seeing the whole canvas) is in very short supply hereabouts - which, I suppose, is why cricket is where it is. What continues to distress me is the lack of balls of those who could and should attempt to divert or halt this headlong rush into applying unbridled free market so-called principles to what is the most sophisticated of team games. We are ill-served by our masters precisely because they put profit way above the good of the game. The two are not the same: cricket needs to pay its way, but it is not a vehicle to fill the pockets of the greedy and powerful that leaves behind a game that has been permanently impoverished in non-financial terms. It boils down to that old cliché: the price of everything, the value of nothing. Best wishes.

  • POSTED BY natarsx on | July 8, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    Its not the rank that matters - its the intent & what you like to achieve - both teams have a few points to prove. Sorry - u are wrong there. Reg workload - if someone have to complain its Indians - they play a lot more than others - rotate the players - dont always expect the best 11 for all series. On wickets - I've seen WI ripping apart Indians at Chennai during 80's. There was bounce n carry! Its a dustbowl now - but India apart from Kumble / Bajji have not produced world class spinner in the last 20 years. India knows that Eng / SA / Aus struggle against spin n so they prepare spinning tracks. Things do change even at home condtions.

    Key is to adapt to all conditions. So Broad - dont cry - start adapting to your new home conditions thats what India have done in the past and you guys have to do. Dont blame things that you cant control - try getting the best of what is available. If ball doesnt carry - put the slip fielders a couple of step forward rather than crying!

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | July 8, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    @Mr_ICC, I think you got the wrong end of the stick in regards to the Article. It isn't a complaint against playing India. Its a complaint against the length of the series when its numbers 4 & 5 playing, and comparing it to 2012 when the 'battle' for the number one slot was only 3 tests.

    there is no doubt that India will be a crowd puller here as there are a lot of ex-pats contract workers from india in the UK. However the reason this series is so compact is as much to do with the BCCI as it is the ECB, as the BCCI would have insisted that all series (T20, ODI, and Test) are completed by the first week of Sept, due to the Champions League T20 games mid Sept.

    So To lay the blame solely at the feet of the ECB and make it about money for the ECB Is a very blinkered view.

  • POSTED BY IndiaNumeroUno on | July 8, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    If the pitches in England have become so dry and flat how come you got thrashed by Australia so badly? If the wickets in India are so flat, how come there have been more results (not a draw) in past 20 test matches in India than abroad?

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | July 8, 2014, 6:03 GMT

    Well this theory-profit/L- sounds nice in principle.By end of 2nd test,it could still be so,in reciprocal.ECB's L could be Eng's gain!!Just as case in 11' with Ind 0-2 down on way to 4-0 w/w.Viewership in Ind went dismally low for obvious reasons.-:)

  • POSTED BY Mr_ICC on | July 8, 2014, 5:29 GMT

    I am tired seeing des comments from certain countries and critics. If you have problems with playing the fourth ranked team then please plays matches with the No.1 test team for the rest of your lives. It is not like India has never been on the top nor does des ranking claim anything but the current status of the team. A certain No.1 Spain was booted out in the first stage of the World Cup, what happened to the highly ranked Italy, Portugal and others.The fact of the matter still reamins everybody wants to host India and it is a crowd-puller not to forget a certain South American is also interested in seeing them here some day and no I am not on the payroll of BCCI.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | July 8, 2014, 5:12 GMT

    George, havent you overlooked one little thing in regards to the summer of 2012 when the SA Test series took place, that small sporting event called the Olympics which impacts every other major sporting event that takes place at the same time.

    It is also to be noted that tours are arranged by agreement of both boards, so the SA board was just as guilty, and at the time the tour was arranged England were not ranked number one, and Sa were not number 2 in the rankings, they were 3 and 4 respectively.

    In regards to the shortness of the upcoming series, again there are factors outside the ECB's control, the BCCI wnats its players available for the Champions trophy in Sept, so to fit in the ODI and T20 series the tests have to be compacted in order to fit in the ODI series, again the schedule is agreed by both boards.

  • POSTED BY siponus2007 on | July 8, 2014, 5:01 GMT

    cricket is not about the real game anymore its just all about money , this is why i lose interest on cricket since 2007 when t20 came up and while some countries like india england were playing too many games at the same time while other countries are not , i mean first of all if u really wanna call that a icc test ranking than all 10 test team should be playing equal match with each other otherwise how can u call that a test ranking when only couple teams are playing too many matches other teams are not , thats just doesn't seems fare , secondable people will get bored watching the same game like india and england over and over again

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | July 8, 2014, 4:56 GMT

    @Lawrie Colliver on (July 8, 2014, 3:44 GMT), actually, you didn't even have to be listening to here all manner of Australians complaining about the dry wickets for the last Ashes played in England, with many asserting that it was a specific tactic against them. Now, here we are playing India and the pitches are again dry so how does that make those Aussies look?

  • POSTED BY venkatesh018 on | July 8, 2014, 4:51 GMT

    Excellent points, George. Cricket is run just like politics. Who cares about the long term damage caused, if it is not going to be under your watch? If the pitches are anywhere like those we had at Lords and Headingley for the Srilanka Tests, this series despite the hype, is going to be a yawning batathon. Only chance for a even contest between bat and ball is if the weather stays cloudy and rainy for all Tests.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | July 8, 2014, 4:32 GMT

    As George Dobell matures he evidences ever growing wisdom, & has now both the acumen & confidence to tackle cricket's most controversial & taboo topics. He is cricinfo's only writer with close to the moral authority of the ethically peerless Sharda Ugra.

    In this social media age, wherein anyone with a laptop & Wi Fi is at once, journalist & publisher, the bandwagon of viral media sucks most into it's mindlessly 'trending' wake. Dobell is one of the few who eschews the headlong rush to the common denominator, and whose ethos is firmly rooted in integrity, principle, & candor. Few seem able to distinguish between form and content, between medium and message: George does!

    As Profit Uber Alles & greed exemplify the new 'Spirit of Cricket,' consider William Blake's question in his work 'The Marriage of Heaven & Hell:' "is he honest who resists his genius or conscience, only for the sake of present ease or gratification."

    Thankfully, George is, if anything, honest.

  • POSTED BY getsetgopk on | July 8, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    @landl47: It must take a delusional mind to concur that work load these days has nothing to do with doing good or bad on the field. Players breaking down in all sorts of situations, crumbling under pressure mixed with exhuastion has nothing to do with work load? The evidence of a tour that happened 53 years ago hardly justifies simply for the lack of info regarding the cicumstances of the tour. How long a break were Aus playing after and how long they rested before they undertook their next series after the long Eng tour? That would put things in proper perspective but you have conviniently brushed those aside.

    Not long ago I posted on a thread that both India and England are in no position to be playing 5 test long series. Nothing good can ever come out of this. This was my personal view and i'm glad George thinks the same. The way I see it and its a sad one, the English have abandoned the game! Down to common place business everyone. Cricket has lost its moral voice.

  • POSTED BY on | July 8, 2014, 3:44 GMT

    Fascinating stuff. I don't recall anyone complaining about dry tracks when Swann was still playing

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | July 8, 2014, 3:20 GMT

    @Triple_A believes that "In order to compete in today's world, the boards have to think of profit since they are trying to expand the game in all parts of the country."

    At issue is not allocation of resources to ensure English cricket runs at a profit. At issue is making financial profit the single, central focus of cricket's administration, at the cost of any & all other aspects of the game.

    Financial profit is not some overwhelming, inevitable evolutionary force. 'Profit above all' is not the administration of cricket, but the greed of unbridled capitalism. The rationale that "In order to compete in today's world we must …" is no different from the rationalisation of crime. The belief that if 'they' do it, then, "in order to compete," so must we, simply rationalises unethical practice. Naive belief in so-called 'market forces,' & the consequent 'profit above all' mindset ends in market crashes, housing bubbles, bank failures, bailouts ...

    When greed trumps common sense, all lose!

  • POSTED BY sray23 on | July 8, 2014, 3:17 GMT

    We need cricket to eventually move away from this international model, because it does not work. Especially in a large country like India (and maybe Engand), it's creates the perverse situation of the national team attracting all the attention/obsession/fanaticism and becoming a cestpool conflicting agendas, & national team players having to perform under this abnormal amount of pressure - and then, when the national players fail to perform under this pressure, the advertising revenues and model collapsing. It cannot last. The future of cricket is franchise & club teams, where the collapse of one or two clubs will not cause the entire system to suffer. Right now, with 8 teams, if 2-3 teams suffer/collapse (esp. if they are the top money teams), the level of competition and revenue model gets badly affected. But if there are 50-100 clubs around the world, revenue gets appropriately shared, and the collapse of one or two does not cause the collapse of the system as a whole.

  • POSTED BY KingOwl on | July 8, 2014, 2:30 GMT

    This does not just apply to England. It applies to all countries. Even Aussies and Saffies give easy pitches to Indians so that they can make money. Why do you think India beats SL in all the one day Masala tournaments they play with each other? It is because SL play those just for the money. If India loses them, Indians won't watch, and SLC will lose!

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | July 8, 2014, 1:42 GMT

    Yes, it's something new for players to have to play most days through the Summer.....

    Oh, wait a minute. The Australians during their tour of England in 1961 played 5 tests- and 32 3-day games as well. There was no one-day cricket in those days, so we're talking about 25 days of test cricket and 90 days of games against the counties, MCC, minor counties, universities, Ireland- almost everybody, really. Frequently a new game started the day after the previous game finished, in a different part of the country. The longest break, I believe, was 4 days, in a tour which started on the 29th April and ran through to 21st September.

    That didn't kill the game and I doubt whether the present work-load will, either.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 7, 2014, 23:57 GMT

    If this logic is to be applied then Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Italy should have ruled FIFA for the better part of the last century, by virtue of their performance This is a professional sports and money will have to be a significabt determinant. The question we should be asking is why it took so long for the ground reality to finally be the key determinant.

  • POSTED BY regofpicton on | July 7, 2014, 23:47 GMT

    Have to agree with your critics here, George, in at least some respects anyway. Even though it is 4 playing 5, they are both potentially very good teams, and it will be an interest couple of months.

    As to the move to dry flat pitches, could this be a long-term approach to defusing the Australian quicks, which have always been their trump card?

  • POSTED BY on | July 7, 2014, 22:50 GMT

    I think you are on to something about the pitches. It cannot be just coincidence, that Lancashire win their only championship since the Norman invasion, when they played mainly at Liverpool. I'll wager a large sum of money, that Lancs will never again win the pennant, in a season played mainly at O.T. Faf du Plessis played for both Liverpool CC and Lancashire, and much preferred the pitches at Aigburth to the dry pancakes at Old Trafford!

  • POSTED BY CricIndia208 on | July 7, 2014, 22:29 GMT

    Rubbish. Rankings do not matter, India vs England always attracts large audience - anyway, it is a matter of time before India returns to the No.1 spot.

  • POSTED BY Robster1 on | July 7, 2014, 22:10 GMT

    An absolutely outstanding article - to the point and very well written. If only the ECB would deign to listen.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 7, 2014, 22:03 GMT

    All; pls read and understand the article before criticising it. Too many of you plainly don't understand it, or haven't read it properly. What George is saying is being echoed by experts everywhere and is plainly obvious to most.

  • POSTED BY mshyder on | July 7, 2014, 21:53 GMT

    Bulls eye. Both BBCI and ECB, because of their greed for more money are going for quantity and not quality. The large scale production can only churn out Maruti Suzuki unlike CSA whose selective nature brings out quality and produces Ferrari.

  • POSTED BY obione05 on | July 7, 2014, 21:31 GMT

    If England want to cram as many test matches in as they can and grind their bowlers into the ground then great...the Aussies are currently sitting with their feet up and getting their bodies into great shape ready for our summer. Oh and btw, we love it that your ex players are ripping into each other as Warnie pulls the puppet strings in destabilising the english cricket team

  • POSTED BY jb633 on | July 7, 2014, 21:26 GMT

    Good point. In the end these tracks will just kill the game off in this country. The fact we make tracks that suit foreign sides means we will keep losing. At the end of the day with so much competition from other sports people will get bored with watching such a mundane side getting hammered and will turn their back on it. I have been involved with a lot of coaching and cricket in general in England and so much of it disgusts me.

  • POSTED BY luggang on | July 7, 2014, 21:17 GMT

    first time in my long life that i'm not looking forward to an English series, two mediocre teams, no world class bowlers, slow wickets, its going one of the most tedious series of all time

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | July 7, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    I really think world needs to change to league test cricket. India can have 5 teams aussie can have 5 teams england can have 4 teams and so on on. Only issue is transportation cost for players to go around the world. We need supersonic jets. :)

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | July 7, 2014, 20:24 GMT

    Mr. Dobell, you have raised an excellent point regarding the pitches with new drainage system will suck most of the moisture from the surface of the pitch. This may provide drier pitches closer to the Indian pitches with slightly more "Oomph" due to tinge of green. So the bounce will be lower even for Anderson & Broad (with his 6'-6" height). Broad also made a valid point that Indians may take advantage of this by playing 2 spinners + 3 seamers. England is playing a 4 pronged pace attack with Ali the solo off spinning all rounder. I hope Dhoni & Fletcher have paid attention to this aspect in selection of their XI. I fully agree that the Cricket focuses more on the commercial aspects now than wins & losses. IPL is a shinning example of the same. ECB, when it makes bigger profits via the presence of the Indian team, prefers to have the Indians playing 5 instead of 3 Tests. Back to good old 1950's. But 42 days for 5 Tests is too short a time & needs rotation of the pace bowlers!

  • POSTED BY on | July 7, 2014, 20:20 GMT

    Tv audience will disappear after 2 tests nd ppl will be tired to watch one sided matches after 3rd test.

  • POSTED BY on | July 7, 2014, 20:11 GMT

    India specially was in a changing phase, so fall in ranking is nothing big. England have this tendency to do something amazing and then something very mediocre, we are what we are, cannot change that...ask SA cricket fans.

  • POSTED BY on | July 7, 2014, 19:53 GMT

    its simple economics,people are tired of seeing too ,much cricket,and only FTA t.v helps expand the game,not facilities,kids in England mostly see football and rugby then how are kids suppose to be inspired to play and love cricket !!!! if U ask cricketers today, they were inspired by watching cricket on FTA t.v not by seeing more grounds built 4 da elite

  • POSTED BY on | July 7, 2014, 19:50 GMT

    There are over 30-40 players in each country, who are fighting to get into the top fifteen. If the top players feel they are fatigued, they can simply take a break and the ones behind them, can take up their spot. It's as simple as that. Why should anyone complain of fatigue? There are plenty of people who want to play and plenty more who want to watch. As for @Diaz54- SA came really close to losing to India, not so many months ago and they lost to Aus, both at home. Though SA are a good team and better than India currently, they are not too far ahead of India. Remember the last series those two played, SA only managed to win narrowly and India got the better of SA in the five out of the eight innings played. And if only the top two sides are to play, how will the rankings ever change? Your argument is flawed, sorry.

  • POSTED BY on | July 7, 2014, 19:44 GMT

    Well said Dobell. Cricket is losing its superb ingenuity and BCCI may be able to make a strong team by playing too much cricket but ultimately cricket will suffer

  • POSTED BY Ramseer on | July 7, 2014, 19:41 GMT

    this is too much, 300 days in hotel, back to back ashes!!! as if all other teams were just sitting home, what about Australia, didn't they played this back to back ashes, they had a four match tough test series in India before that, in between most of them played IPL, ODI series in India, after Ashes they went to SA and played 3 more test. Same for India, SL they were also playing non stop cricket.

  • POSTED BY on | July 7, 2014, 19:24 GMT

    excellent views by mr dobell .. but tell u what.. u might be in for a surprise... this series might just prove the mediocrity of this england side... we'll be awaiting for ur views after 42 days... lets see then what u'll have to say

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | July 7, 2014, 19:05 GMT

    I have had a sense of foreboding for a few years now. Cricket is becoming less and less distinguishable from other sports; they're all after our hard-earned one way or another and that is, nakedly, the whole thrust of the business. I do not buy t20 because I consider it a product that is more froth than substance, but do I have the option of deleting it from my Sky package? Nope! Then there are the Test matches which are punctuated with gambling ads, ad nuaseam. Cricket is not a betting game for me, yet I have to suffer the drumming incitement to waste money to overfill Sky's coffers and keep bookmakers in rude health. This is not the world I want. Neither is it good that five Tests are crammed into six weeks. It is not good for cricket, but it's obviously fine for business. The Golden Goose is going to the slaughter. Finally, pitches. If they're so blotting-paper dry, there is one obvious antidote; leave them uncovered. Then we'll see who can really play the game!

  • POSTED BY MAK123 on | July 7, 2014, 18:36 GMT

    Looking at the headline of the article, one expected to read something different, something more than what the writer has jotted down.

  • POSTED BY willsrustynuts on | July 7, 2014, 18:28 GMT

    Pleasing to read someone in the press say this 'out loud'. Too many vested interests in the sporting media for them to have any real impact, it seems. GD is quickly becoming the outlier.

    In the face of ciriticism (that always comes when you challange an established heirarchy) it is always wise to remeber that when Waitrose (sorry, England) go out to bat all the logos and trademarks are paying for the nice houses and cars and boats that the board members enjoy so much.

  • POSTED BY shillingsworth on | July 7, 2014, 18:17 GMT

    Yes, the current rankings do indeed put India and England at 4 and 5 but that is a pretty daft way of measuring how many tests a series should comprise. By their very nature the rankings fluctuate. The level of interest in an England v India series does not.

  • POSTED BY on | July 7, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    oh yaar what to worry .. india is gonna get out before 200 in all tests :P ..

  • POSTED BY Triple_A on | July 7, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    SA play significantly fewer matches than Eng or India every year. How is it ECB's or BCCI's fault if CSA does not want to play more test matches during tours??! SA's bowlers are always fresh since they have two months gap between each tour - neither of these two teams can afford that kind of luxury - hence the quality of cricket goes down a little. Its all relative, folks.

  • POSTED BY glen1 on | July 7, 2014, 18:12 GMT

    If international cricket has to survive, then it needs a large audience in the filed and at the television. Playing in England assures a large field audience and India assures a large TV audience; obviously, it is a win-win for the administrators. All this lament about India getting five tests is misplaced, as is the lament about cricket quality and fourth and fifth best teams and so on. Think of Bollywood movies; fun and entertainment and ocassional quality!

  • POSTED BY Triple_A on | July 7, 2014, 18:07 GMT

    I dont understand why Dobell and others dont get it that eventually, everything can be linked back to business. Do you really want the game to go back to the 1980's where England and Australia were strong, but the players were rebelling all over the place due to poor wages? In order to compete in today's world, the boards have to think of profit since they are trying to expand the game in all parts of the country. Previously, only a couple of grounds in each country hosted games and players played 10-15 games a year. Now with players coming up from all parts of the country and constant schedules requires the need for good infrastructure. Where will that money come from if not from these lucrative tours?Criticizing the BCCI cannot be to solution for everything.

  • POSTED BY Diaz54 on | July 7, 2014, 17:36 GMT

    Well said Mr Dobell. I fully concur with you. BCCI have basically bought out old colonial body. I hate saying it but it is a fact. SA cricket is run by the new look SA and the old administrators don't trust them. SA is the best side and yet as you say only got to play 3 test matches....to watch players like Kallis, garage smith, amala, Steyn, AB cannot be compared to watching this mediocrity which is going to take place this summer!

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  • POSTED BY Diaz54 on | July 7, 2014, 17:36 GMT

    Well said Mr Dobell. I fully concur with you. BCCI have basically bought out old colonial body. I hate saying it but it is a fact. SA cricket is run by the new look SA and the old administrators don't trust them. SA is the best side and yet as you say only got to play 3 test matches....to watch players like Kallis, garage smith, amala, Steyn, AB cannot be compared to watching this mediocrity which is going to take place this summer!

  • POSTED BY Triple_A on | July 7, 2014, 18:07 GMT

    I dont understand why Dobell and others dont get it that eventually, everything can be linked back to business. Do you really want the game to go back to the 1980's where England and Australia were strong, but the players were rebelling all over the place due to poor wages? In order to compete in today's world, the boards have to think of profit since they are trying to expand the game in all parts of the country. Previously, only a couple of grounds in each country hosted games and players played 10-15 games a year. Now with players coming up from all parts of the country and constant schedules requires the need for good infrastructure. Where will that money come from if not from these lucrative tours?Criticizing the BCCI cannot be to solution for everything.

  • POSTED BY glen1 on | July 7, 2014, 18:12 GMT

    If international cricket has to survive, then it needs a large audience in the filed and at the television. Playing in England assures a large field audience and India assures a large TV audience; obviously, it is a win-win for the administrators. All this lament about India getting five tests is misplaced, as is the lament about cricket quality and fourth and fifth best teams and so on. Think of Bollywood movies; fun and entertainment and ocassional quality!

  • POSTED BY Triple_A on | July 7, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    SA play significantly fewer matches than Eng or India every year. How is it ECB's or BCCI's fault if CSA does not want to play more test matches during tours??! SA's bowlers are always fresh since they have two months gap between each tour - neither of these two teams can afford that kind of luxury - hence the quality of cricket goes down a little. Its all relative, folks.

  • POSTED BY on | July 7, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    oh yaar what to worry .. india is gonna get out before 200 in all tests :P ..

  • POSTED BY shillingsworth on | July 7, 2014, 18:17 GMT

    Yes, the current rankings do indeed put India and England at 4 and 5 but that is a pretty daft way of measuring how many tests a series should comprise. By their very nature the rankings fluctuate. The level of interest in an England v India series does not.

  • POSTED BY willsrustynuts on | July 7, 2014, 18:28 GMT

    Pleasing to read someone in the press say this 'out loud'. Too many vested interests in the sporting media for them to have any real impact, it seems. GD is quickly becoming the outlier.

    In the face of ciriticism (that always comes when you challange an established heirarchy) it is always wise to remeber that when Waitrose (sorry, England) go out to bat all the logos and trademarks are paying for the nice houses and cars and boats that the board members enjoy so much.

  • POSTED BY MAK123 on | July 7, 2014, 18:36 GMT

    Looking at the headline of the article, one expected to read something different, something more than what the writer has jotted down.

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | July 7, 2014, 19:05 GMT

    I have had a sense of foreboding for a few years now. Cricket is becoming less and less distinguishable from other sports; they're all after our hard-earned one way or another and that is, nakedly, the whole thrust of the business. I do not buy t20 because I consider it a product that is more froth than substance, but do I have the option of deleting it from my Sky package? Nope! Then there are the Test matches which are punctuated with gambling ads, ad nuaseam. Cricket is not a betting game for me, yet I have to suffer the drumming incitement to waste money to overfill Sky's coffers and keep bookmakers in rude health. This is not the world I want. Neither is it good that five Tests are crammed into six weeks. It is not good for cricket, but it's obviously fine for business. The Golden Goose is going to the slaughter. Finally, pitches. If they're so blotting-paper dry, there is one obvious antidote; leave them uncovered. Then we'll see who can really play the game!

  • POSTED BY on | July 7, 2014, 19:24 GMT

    excellent views by mr dobell .. but tell u what.. u might be in for a surprise... this series might just prove the mediocrity of this england side... we'll be awaiting for ur views after 42 days... lets see then what u'll have to say