West Indies in England 2009 May 15, 2009

Collier defends ECB scheduling

Cricinfo staff

The ECB chief executive, David Collier, has defended the decision to stage a low-key two-Test series against West Indies so early in the English season, saying that the board had no choice but to go through with the fixtures because of contractual obligations with the host broadcaster, Sky.

The ECB signed a new four-year deal with Sky television last summer, which obliges them to stage seven Tests and 10 one-day internationals each summer. "We had broadcasting contracts in place anyway that we would either have to re-negotiate or breach in some way, shape or form," said Collier.

After a first Test at Lord's that finished before the weekend, the second Test at Durham has been marred by poor spectator turn-out and bad weather, with the first day attracting only 3000 advance sales and the second day being washed out entirely.

But Collier insisted the ECB were right to go ahead with the series, which falls outside the Future Tours Programme having originally been allocated to Zimbabwe. He claimed that in an Ashes year, the need for the Test side to hone their skills in home conditions was paramount, especially with the ICC World Twenty20 taking up valuable practice time in June.

"We believe Test cricket is very much the pinnacle, and we believe very, very strongly that an Ashes summer is a major summer for us," said Collier. "I think we would have been criticised had we not had any preparation for the England team, particularly at a time where a number of young players are starting to establish themselves in the side."

"From a playing point of view we desperately wanted a Test match or two Test matches, which is the minimum for an official ICC Test series. I think from a cricket point of view it is important we play Test-match cricket. From a cricketing point of view it was the right thing to do."