ECB in negotiations for availability of Ashes tickets April 17, 2006

Collier defends scheduling of matches

Cricinfo staff

David Collier feels the scheduling gives an opportunity to try out fringe players © Getty Images

David Collier, the ECB chief, came out in defence of the scheduling of international matches, citing the larger gaps between matches as the reason why the England players are not as overworked, compared to their other counterparts.

His comments came in the wake of widespread criticism of the scheduling of England's winter tours to India and Pakistan, which forced a few players to withdraw due to injuries and left others jaded. This prompted the coach Duncan Fletcher to rest Andrew Flintoff, England's stand-in captain, for a couple of ODIs, with the series already decided. England were without the services of five of their key players in the Ashes series, namely Marcus Trescothick, Michael Vaughan, Simon Jones and Ashley Giles and Fletcher expressed concern about more players succumbing to injuries and burn-outs.

"There is a limit of 15 Tests and 30 one-day internationals around the world which was respected in the Future Tours programme," he told the PA Sport news agency. "That is the guideline certainly England are sticking to and we are actually considerably less than that in terms of Test matches and one-day internationals.

"We cannot do anything to lessen the impact of the tours but I think one of the things where England is different to every other nation is that we are playing more or less 12 months of the year. That means we do have bigger gaps between our games than other nations but there is not an extended period of break that some of the other teams have."

Flintoff led a depleted side in India, which exceeded expectations in the Tests, drawing the series 1-1 but were exposed in the ODIs, losing the seven-match series 5-1. Despite the result, Collier felt that some positives had come out of the tour, giving Duncan Fletcher, the coach, the chance to identify new players ahead of next year's World Cup.

He said, "Any side in the world would have struggled having lost five senior players but it has given Duncan an opportunity to look at the players who are on the fringes of selection for the World Cup and that will give us a much stronger squad going into the World Cup build-up."

Collier also had some encouraging news for England fans hoping to acquire sufficient tickets for this year's Ashes series in Australia. He said that negotiations were on with Cricket Australia to provide for English fans, expected to turn out in large numbers following England's thrilling victory in previous year's edition of the Ashes.

"We have had discussions with Cricket Australia about obtaining tickets. England fans are always tremendously resourceful and have managed to get contacts in Australia and certainly tour groups and the Barmy Army have got some tickets so some are being made available", he said. "It is similar to this country last year when we had such a huge interest - a bigger interest than we have had in a series before."