'Two-day games are useless' - Hohns
Trevor Hohns, the chairman of selectors, has called for the 2009 Ashes tour to have a greater number of first-class matches to aid Australia's preparation. The hectic, condensed nature of international trips has decreased the number of practice games available to travelling sides.
After the one-day series earlier in the season, Australia had one three-day game against Leicestershire before the first Test at Lord's. The tourists also had a first-class fixture against Worcestershire before the second Test, which was affected by rain, and the matches at Edgbaston and Old Trafford were back-to-back (see full schedule here).
Speaking to The Courier Mail, Hohns said players such as Brad Haddin and Jason Gillespie, who has been woefully short of his best throughout the summer, hadn't had enough match practice to regain form. "Very much so, and that's been the case all tour," he said. "Anybody who's out of form can't get into form, and there's very few games for those sitting on the sidelines to forward a case for inclusion. But as we know, most tours these days are such that there's very few games between Test matches."
Not only has the lack of games frustrated Hohns, but so has the quality and intensity. When Australia played Essex in an odd two-day fixture on a pitch like a road, more than 1000 runs were scored in two days, including a double-century by the young England prospect Alastair Cook.
"I would like to see more of them [first-class games], and two-day games are useless as far as I'm concerned," Hohns said. "They give guys a bat and bowl and that's about all. Three-day games are better but there hasn't been many of those either." Asked if he had raised the matter with the relevant officials, Hohns said: "The point's been made."
On the 2001 tour Steve Waugh called for a reduction of the number of tour games. And two weeks ago Paul Marsh, the Australian Cricketers' Association chief executive, said Australia's squad felt tours were already crowded enough.