January 12, 2014

How to make Test tours more competitive

Increase the size of tour squads, or create teams of Associate and U-19 cricketers to play warm-ups
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Chappell: I'm in favour of a World Test Championship

In the last couple of years there has been a spate of series between top-ranked teams where one side - previously a strong unit - hasn't won a match.

In eight such series involving India, Australia, England, South Africa and Pakistan, the only team to achieve success away from home has been South Africa. In the recently completed Australian whitewash of England, Kevin Pietersen was of the opinion that it's hard to play back-to-back series against the same team but even more difficult if you're the touring side in the return contest.

This may partly explain the English debacle, but in all six of the other cases they didn't involve back-to-back series against the same side. Perhaps a better explanation for the disintegration of good sides is the structure of modern tours.

Not only are there very few lead-in games for the touring side, but also, once a series starts, there's little or no opportunity for out-of-form players to reverse the trend. Previously the touring team would play a number of first-class games to acclimatise and find form under unfamiliar conditions. Then in between Tests there'd be opportunities for out-of-form and squad players to get some match practice against first-class teams. This was the ideal way to either regain form or put your name forward for inclusion in the next Test team.

The current scheduling doesn't accommodate either out-of-form players or those outside the Test XI. It reminds me of World Series Cricket, which was the toughest environment I played in. One match you'd play against the ferocious West Indies pace quartet, and if you failed, the next assignment was against a World XI attack, which was almost as talented. That sequence continued until an out-of-form player must have felt like he was at the bottom of a well with no step ladder and no way out.

Current international players must experience similar feelings when they are either struggling for runs or wickets. Consequently, once one side gets on top early in a series, it's almost impossible for even good cricketers to reverse that trend.

The game is fortunate that most of these pummellings have been administered by the home side. Therefore the fans have either turned up in droves or watched in big numbers on television. However, a continuation of this trend won't do much for the competitive balance of Test cricket, and this needs to be considered if the game is going to prosper.

There has been no indication for more than a decade that common sense will be applied to producing a logical international itinerary. Therefore some lateral thinking is required to overcome the massive flaw in the current structure of Test tours.

One way to overcome the problem would be for the touring party to be increased so that most of the surplus players could be involved in matches running concurrently with the Test programme. In order to avoid a cost blowout this would mean reducing the number of support staff in a touring party, which would be a good result in itself.

Such an itinerary would also provide opportunities for the hosts to choose their best young players to give them international experience. That would be an ideal way of gauging who among them is on the verge of international selection. However, this would disrupt the local first-class competition and wouldn't be popular with the associations.

Another solution might be to draw a team from the top young talent among the Associate nations, bolstered by a few strong Under-19 players from the major nations, to form a travelling party to play the tourists while the Tests are played.

The administrators say they need to schedule a lot of cricket to provide money to run the game. This sort of investment, designed to produce elite players from a wider pool of countries, makes more sense than providing surplus jobs for officials.

Whatever method is adopted, something needs to be done to balance these contests because too many one-sided series will eventually detract from Test cricket. If ever a World Test Championship is played, it'll quickly lose credibility if the touring sides are at a distinct disadvantage.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 13, 2014, 21:01 GMT

    I really like Ian's suggestion of forming a squad of the Associates to tour. There are some great Associate players out there from Ryan ten Doeschate (largely overlooked now) to Paul Stirling to Mohammad Nabi. Even from other countries lower down in the pecking order there are some fantastic cricketers. Andrew Mansale, captain of Vanuatu (Division 6) comes to mind. Why not take some of these Associate players and form a sort of "World XI" and have them play the A sides of the different Test nations to gain exposure to top level cricket. I think that a side like that even has the potential to beat some of the weaker A sides in world cricket like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. So, ICC, why not pick a 15 or 17 man squad from the Associates and have them play a number of matches against the A teams? It can't hurt them.

  • Unmesh_cric on January 12, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    Easily one of the best articles in recent times! Right now, a lot of teams are evenly matched. Among England, Australia and India, anybody can beat each other depending on who has the home advantage. Only South Africa seems capable of matching the "home" team. Although losing overseas can be due to technical shortcomings, I think it also has a lot to do with the mental aspect. A lot of teams seem satisfied to just win the home series. The reason I say there is mental aspect to overseas losses is a lot of times the touring team has advantage going into 4th and 5th day, but they still end up losing. The belief that the host team can be beaten on their home grounds seems to be missing. Is it because the coaches and the media makes too much fuss about winning overseas these days. Does this put too much pressure on the touring team and make it seem like winning overseas is next to impossible (when it is not)?

  • jay57870 on January 15, 2014, 1:24 GMT

    Ian - Think laterally? Seriously? On scheduling just before the Ashes, Chappelli loudly complained: "Australia's pointless tour to India could lead to selection blunders"! Well, the results prove just the opposite: That ODI tour's timing was spot on, helping CA selectors pick key match-ready players - Johnson, Haddin, Watson, Bailey & Faulkner!! Mitchell was Man-of-the-series: he turned 'from outcast to beast' (per an astute observer) because of his rebirth in IPL. His MI team-mate Tendulkar predicted "Johnson could prove an Ashes menace"! Sachin was right while Ian was raising "The Watson and Johnson question marks"? Ian was wrong on both! Haddin at 36 was superb (Ian questioned Brad's age); Bailey debuted at 31 to hold on as No. 6 batsman (where Ian saw no "potential"). Add Rogers at 36 as No. 1 opener. OMG, whither Chappelli's half-baked "use-by-dates" theory? Ian always talks about "common sense" as if all else is "nonsense". Elementary my dear Chappell: Think introspectively!!

  • CMIS on January 14, 2014, 21:56 GMT

    The thing that we may be missing (I didn't read all the comments) is right there. It's not likely that the ICC or the participating boards will suddenly start adding to tours against the tide of commercial considerations. But a close-enough-for-government-work alternative is to have the ODIs and T20s before the Tests in each tour. I know there are caveats like Test specialists being left out. But for the rest, if they play the ODIs before the Tests they will have knowledge of the opponents and their conditions (maybe not what a pitch is like on the fifth day, but enough to know what they may be looking at in terms of technical adaptations, etc.). It hardly seems fair for touring teams to be asked to jump into new conditions while playing the hardest format. And about the Test specialists, they are specialists for a reason. Instead of trying to invent the wheel all over again, let's try giving the current one some tweaks

  • Shongololo on January 14, 2014, 1:14 GMT

    One way of making Test cricket more competitive is creating a more equitable future tours programme, one that doesn't deliver outrageous favours to England, Australia and India by presenting them with regular four or five Test series' and a generally greater number of Tests each calendar year...while condemning South Africa, Pakistan, et al. to joke two or three Test series' and inordinately long breaks between series'. The ICC has much to answer for but being the feeble lapdog organisation it is, I certainly won't be holding my breath.

  • RodStark on January 14, 2014, 1:12 GMT

    (continued) I do think the idea of taking an A team along with the main team has promise--as long as the coordination was better than in the last Ashes series. Get those in the main team who aren't selected for the test playing for the A team. The problem here is who they would be allowed to play. Another approach, which works for Australia in England, is to get a load of their reserves playing in the county championship, but this doesn't seem possible anywhere other than England.

  • RodStark on January 14, 2014, 1:09 GMT

    The problems seem to be (1) a tendency for home sides to doctor pitches to their own advantage and (2) a lack of playing opportunities for the touring team during the compressed tours that are now so common. The first could be partially solved by getting rid of the toss and allowing the touring team to decide whether to bat or field first. That would be problematic because the concept of the toss is so ingrained. Also, while it might deter groundsmen from preparing pitches intended to braek up as the game went on, it would do nothing to prevent spinning tracks int he subcontinents or fats tracks in Australia. As for the second problem, it stems from the unwillingness of modern cricketers to spend months abroad playing against a load of first-class sides as they used to do in the sixties, and a type of gamesmanship on the part of the home side to provide top-level opposition. England and Australia have both been guilty of this in the recent Ashes. (to be continued)

  • Thegimp on January 14, 2014, 0:56 GMT

    OMG!!! after all this time I finally agree with something Ian has said!!! Mind you, When England played a warm up match this summer, Carberry and Cook batted themselves for two days when it might have been prudent to retire and give the rest of the team a hit.

  • IPSY on January 13, 2014, 16:31 GMT

    Cont'd: Ian, in addition, I think that ICC needs to have a serious " Save-All-Formats" of Cricket (SAF) meeting with the franchise holders of the various lucrative T/20 tournaments, to seek their indulgence in creating criteria to be implemented across the board for the selection of cricketers to play in these rich tournaments. Eg:, I think that all the players must be encouraged to play all three formats. Hence, one of the criteria by which a batsman may be selected for any T/20 tournament outside his country should be that he has an avge in first class cricket of 40 or more; 35 in ODIs and 30 in T/20s; and is a member of at least one of his 3 national teams. I'm asking, "what message are we sending in cricket when Maxwell is bought for $1m and Ricky Pontin, one of the greatest batsmen of All Time is not paid even half of that - knowing that Pontin is a much better batsman than Maxwell'? Why not make it possible for tickets to test matches operate like a lottery to win cash prizes?

  • IPSY on January 13, 2014, 15:16 GMT

    Ian, I too share your concern regarding the recent trend of lack of competitiveness from touring teams away from home - a case of teams only winning in their own backyards. I also endorse most of your recommendations, but I would like to add a few of my own: ICC I understand has representation from all of the major cricketing jurisdictions. Hence, I think the ICC needs to make a ruling that, "Every host country must ensure that the test match touring team plays a minimum of 3 first class warm up matches, to last no fewer than 4 days each, before the series begins; so that the touring team becomes properly acclimatised to play the best cricket to satisfy the paying public who SACRIFICE time to watch these matches". They may further rule that the host is also obligated to fit one member each from the reserves of the touring team, into one of the local teams each playing in the local first class competition; which should be organised to meet this commitment. Cont'd

  • on January 13, 2014, 21:01 GMT

    I really like Ian's suggestion of forming a squad of the Associates to tour. There are some great Associate players out there from Ryan ten Doeschate (largely overlooked now) to Paul Stirling to Mohammad Nabi. Even from other countries lower down in the pecking order there are some fantastic cricketers. Andrew Mansale, captain of Vanuatu (Division 6) comes to mind. Why not take some of these Associate players and form a sort of "World XI" and have them play the A sides of the different Test nations to gain exposure to top level cricket. I think that a side like that even has the potential to beat some of the weaker A sides in world cricket like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. So, ICC, why not pick a 15 or 17 man squad from the Associates and have them play a number of matches against the A teams? It can't hurt them.

  • Unmesh_cric on January 12, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    Easily one of the best articles in recent times! Right now, a lot of teams are evenly matched. Among England, Australia and India, anybody can beat each other depending on who has the home advantage. Only South Africa seems capable of matching the "home" team. Although losing overseas can be due to technical shortcomings, I think it also has a lot to do with the mental aspect. A lot of teams seem satisfied to just win the home series. The reason I say there is mental aspect to overseas losses is a lot of times the touring team has advantage going into 4th and 5th day, but they still end up losing. The belief that the host team can be beaten on their home grounds seems to be missing. Is it because the coaches and the media makes too much fuss about winning overseas these days. Does this put too much pressure on the touring team and make it seem like winning overseas is next to impossible (when it is not)?

  • jay57870 on January 15, 2014, 1:24 GMT

    Ian - Think laterally? Seriously? On scheduling just before the Ashes, Chappelli loudly complained: "Australia's pointless tour to India could lead to selection blunders"! Well, the results prove just the opposite: That ODI tour's timing was spot on, helping CA selectors pick key match-ready players - Johnson, Haddin, Watson, Bailey & Faulkner!! Mitchell was Man-of-the-series: he turned 'from outcast to beast' (per an astute observer) because of his rebirth in IPL. His MI team-mate Tendulkar predicted "Johnson could prove an Ashes menace"! Sachin was right while Ian was raising "The Watson and Johnson question marks"? Ian was wrong on both! Haddin at 36 was superb (Ian questioned Brad's age); Bailey debuted at 31 to hold on as No. 6 batsman (where Ian saw no "potential"). Add Rogers at 36 as No. 1 opener. OMG, whither Chappelli's half-baked "use-by-dates" theory? Ian always talks about "common sense" as if all else is "nonsense". Elementary my dear Chappell: Think introspectively!!

  • CMIS on January 14, 2014, 21:56 GMT

    The thing that we may be missing (I didn't read all the comments) is right there. It's not likely that the ICC or the participating boards will suddenly start adding to tours against the tide of commercial considerations. But a close-enough-for-government-work alternative is to have the ODIs and T20s before the Tests in each tour. I know there are caveats like Test specialists being left out. But for the rest, if they play the ODIs before the Tests they will have knowledge of the opponents and their conditions (maybe not what a pitch is like on the fifth day, but enough to know what they may be looking at in terms of technical adaptations, etc.). It hardly seems fair for touring teams to be asked to jump into new conditions while playing the hardest format. And about the Test specialists, they are specialists for a reason. Instead of trying to invent the wheel all over again, let's try giving the current one some tweaks

  • Shongololo on January 14, 2014, 1:14 GMT

    One way of making Test cricket more competitive is creating a more equitable future tours programme, one that doesn't deliver outrageous favours to England, Australia and India by presenting them with regular four or five Test series' and a generally greater number of Tests each calendar year...while condemning South Africa, Pakistan, et al. to joke two or three Test series' and inordinately long breaks between series'. The ICC has much to answer for but being the feeble lapdog organisation it is, I certainly won't be holding my breath.

  • RodStark on January 14, 2014, 1:12 GMT

    (continued) I do think the idea of taking an A team along with the main team has promise--as long as the coordination was better than in the last Ashes series. Get those in the main team who aren't selected for the test playing for the A team. The problem here is who they would be allowed to play. Another approach, which works for Australia in England, is to get a load of their reserves playing in the county championship, but this doesn't seem possible anywhere other than England.

  • RodStark on January 14, 2014, 1:09 GMT

    The problems seem to be (1) a tendency for home sides to doctor pitches to their own advantage and (2) a lack of playing opportunities for the touring team during the compressed tours that are now so common. The first could be partially solved by getting rid of the toss and allowing the touring team to decide whether to bat or field first. That would be problematic because the concept of the toss is so ingrained. Also, while it might deter groundsmen from preparing pitches intended to braek up as the game went on, it would do nothing to prevent spinning tracks int he subcontinents or fats tracks in Australia. As for the second problem, it stems from the unwillingness of modern cricketers to spend months abroad playing against a load of first-class sides as they used to do in the sixties, and a type of gamesmanship on the part of the home side to provide top-level opposition. England and Australia have both been guilty of this in the recent Ashes. (to be continued)

  • Thegimp on January 14, 2014, 0:56 GMT

    OMG!!! after all this time I finally agree with something Ian has said!!! Mind you, When England played a warm up match this summer, Carberry and Cook batted themselves for two days when it might have been prudent to retire and give the rest of the team a hit.

  • IPSY on January 13, 2014, 16:31 GMT

    Cont'd: Ian, in addition, I think that ICC needs to have a serious " Save-All-Formats" of Cricket (SAF) meeting with the franchise holders of the various lucrative T/20 tournaments, to seek their indulgence in creating criteria to be implemented across the board for the selection of cricketers to play in these rich tournaments. Eg:, I think that all the players must be encouraged to play all three formats. Hence, one of the criteria by which a batsman may be selected for any T/20 tournament outside his country should be that he has an avge in first class cricket of 40 or more; 35 in ODIs and 30 in T/20s; and is a member of at least one of his 3 national teams. I'm asking, "what message are we sending in cricket when Maxwell is bought for $1m and Ricky Pontin, one of the greatest batsmen of All Time is not paid even half of that - knowing that Pontin is a much better batsman than Maxwell'? Why not make it possible for tickets to test matches operate like a lottery to win cash prizes?

  • IPSY on January 13, 2014, 15:16 GMT

    Ian, I too share your concern regarding the recent trend of lack of competitiveness from touring teams away from home - a case of teams only winning in their own backyards. I also endorse most of your recommendations, but I would like to add a few of my own: ICC I understand has representation from all of the major cricketing jurisdictions. Hence, I think the ICC needs to make a ruling that, "Every host country must ensure that the test match touring team plays a minimum of 3 first class warm up matches, to last no fewer than 4 days each, before the series begins; so that the touring team becomes properly acclimatised to play the best cricket to satisfy the paying public who SACRIFICE time to watch these matches". They may further rule that the host is also obligated to fit one member each from the reserves of the touring team, into one of the local teams each playing in the local first class competition; which should be organised to meet this commitment. Cont'd

  • on January 13, 2014, 13:52 GMT

    D.Leander... I have a suggestion for the ICC. what about the next Ashes series move it to the West Indies or to the sub continent and that's how we are going to see who's is who in the ashes. my point is both of these teams are like "home made bread" meaning the can only proform at home.. Bring something new to the test arena. what about the next ashes series going something like this ( the first two test in India, the next two in Sir Lanka, and the final test in Bangladesh or Dubai. I think that would give test cricket some momentum going again. Please if my idea come through please can I have a all inclusive complementary for myself and my wife. Thanks for reading my suggestion!!

  • pretoria on January 13, 2014, 13:38 GMT

    Excellent article and a number of good suggestions. I like the idea of having a couple of ODI's before the test series. Also a rest day with a T20 match in that space also need testing. The toss idea not a good one. For starters the visiting teams need to start holding on to their catches. Both Aus (in Eng) and Eng (in Aus) dropped vital catches which could have made a huge difference to the outcomes of some of the tests. The upcoming Aus tour of SA would shed more light on the visiting team issue. Both teams are in good form and none of them have any excuses. They have recently completed a home series and know which of their players are in form and who not.

  • on January 13, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    England & Australia behaviour its call home made bread!! The only pro forms when the are at home. I have a suggestion for the ICC, the next ASHES series put both of them to play each other in the West Indies or in the Sub continent, I think that's the only reason I am going to look at these two teams play each other again. It going to be something new, interesting and exciting. If my idea come to pass please can I have a complementary all inclusive for the first test. Thank you.

  • Yevghenny on January 13, 2014, 12:53 GMT

    ODI's before test matches on tours is by far the most obvious thing that needs to happen - ODI's are a lot less pressurised environment and a 5/7 match series can give players plenty of time to acclimatize and be ready for the brutal prolongued assessment that is test cricket

  • Amit_13 on January 13, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    Excellent view expressed here. There are some other ways perhaps... instead of a world XI, can there not be an Associate XI which could have 'willing' players to play top tier cricket and become another top tier team? Can bilateral tours not be triangular? The first touring team arrriving to play first class games and then into tests, while the second touring team plays first class games with the hosts. And then into tests. Following a short warm up leg, you can then head into triangular ODIs which like the CB series were far more entertaining than the meaningless bilateral ties with 5 - 7 games. The home test season would be 4 - 7 test with two opponents instead of two separate events. And why doesn't India have a bog ticket test like the boxing day match in Aus and RSA? Or the Lord's test match. Diwali test match - Mumbai or Eden!!! For what is master marketing organisation, BCCI is missing out on a big ticket event.

  • andrew783 on January 13, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    Pietersen comment doesn't carry too much weight. England had their moments in the current ASHES series. It was a question of grabbing these. All said and done, Ian Chappels article makes a lot of sense. Cricket administrators - are you listening?

  • Udendra on January 13, 2014, 6:34 GMT

    As I see it, the best way to make Test cricket more competitive is by having more "A" team FC tours home & away. Persist with this strategy for 2-3 years and see the difference.

  • on January 13, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    How about making every series a bilateral one with alternating home and away matches?

  • KrisDonald on January 13, 2014, 4:23 GMT

    How about doing away with the toss and letting the away team choose whether to bat or field?

  • sifter132 on January 13, 2014, 3:18 GMT

    This is where my idea for world cricket might help. Reintroduce the rest day on either Saturday/Sundays, but instead of rest - play a T20I. Players in the ongoing Test could play if they felt they needed a hit, if they felt good they could rest. Advantages of the rest day-T20I scheme would be: 1) It would ease the load on fast bowlers who are injured far too often in world cricket; 2) it would shorten tours a bit by not needing an extra week for T20Is; 3) draw crowds on a weekend who might come back the next day for the Test if they are hooked on cricket; 4) save on travel fatigue and expenses with less travelling to and from cities; and 5) the point above where Test players could play if they needed a hit, thus potentially saving on organising tour matches for them.

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 13, 2014, 3:14 GMT

    More assistance for on field success doesn't mean more assistants. Sadly common sense isn't a prerequisite in cricket administration. We all know that carrying a clipboard rather than a bat is nowhere near as important to the success of a sporting contest. The trouble is the template has been devised for scheduling by administrators who arrogantly refuse to accept is that lead up games against states & counties directly affect the quality of the money spinning games. Reduction of clipboarders to accommodate more playing staff and increase games to afford form reversal is common sense, but now there are a million backroomers protecting their slice of the income. England's new hierarchy can strike now to add some logic and Australia should continue the Lehmann path by getting rid of half of the green shirts that were on the Test victory dais. Less assistants - more assistance.

  • RonG on January 13, 2014, 0:54 GMT

    Ian:

    I have 2 suggestions for making Test tours more competitive 1) The visiting team always chooses whether to bat or bowl first and 2) The visiting team can choose its own ball for bowling Kookabura, Duke, SG etc.

    What do you think?

  • that_guy on January 13, 2014, 0:42 GMT

    Play a best of 5 t20 and have 10X the crowd

  • cricketeria on January 12, 2014, 23:49 GMT

    I'm sorry but Pakistan beat SA in Abu Dhabi, i.e. away from home. Abu Dhabi is not Pakistan. So Pakistan and South Africa both won away from home. Australia didn't, India didn't, England didn't. Pakistan also beat South Africa in an away ODI series. England's excuse doesn't hold water because teams play series with 3-month gaps all the time. So what if the opponent was Australia both times? Scheduling is no excuse, unless Eng complain that they play TOO MUCH cricket overall, which may be true.

    No, Johnson beat England, pure and simple.

  • liz1558 on January 12, 2014, 22:35 GMT

    Pietersen's views make sense. If there had only been one Ashes series this year - in England or Australia, it is hard to imagine a winner other than England. If England had toured Bangladesh or West Indies instead, it's likely that Trott and Swann would still be playing. All in all, a bridge too far for England.

  • Mipixx on January 12, 2014, 21:19 GMT

    Chappell always has interesting views. The idea of a set of games for the 'spare tourists' is a new one on me, and is a clever idea tho he argues the reverse side of the coin because nobody would adopt this. But maybe the idea could be take up somehow, as it hints at a solution.

    Chappell mentions the lack of preparatory cricket. This is a subject I analysed - the only analysis of its type, back in the Wisden Cricketer a few years ago, and it revealed a huge disparity between nations, and in particular, England was giving far more preparation cricket than it received when it toured.

    Another problem we have in England, is that we only tour in our "off season". Obviously, usually, tourists here are also in their winters; but among themselves, as southern hemisphere nations, they do tour each other during their own domestic seasons. We should, by rights, have the worst touring record of anybody if this is anything to go by.

  • Jonathan_E on January 12, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    Tests should be spaced further apart - at least a full week between the end of one and the beginning of the next, with at least one full first-class four-day match against a FULL STRENGTH state/county side in between. Other matches optional, especially if there is a break longer than week between Tests.

    Counties putting out a less than full strength side against the tourists should be heavily financially penalised, the money to be split directly between the players of the touring team.

    No touring party may bring more non-players than players (not counting wives and families in the party).

    International players (of all nations) should be obliged to play for their counties in between Tests. If you're not fit for the county match before the Test, you're not fit for the Test.

    A coin should only be tossed at the start of the FIRST match of a series (either of tests or one-dayers). After that, the choice of batting or fielding first should alternate between the sides.

  • on January 12, 2014, 18:03 GMT

    This piece is right on point ! Added to this is the current player is often complaining about returning home or too much cricket after 6 weeks away . Do unsure how a touring team can play 5 test series, warm up games and 1-dayers and T20's on any tour

  • mysecretme on January 12, 2014, 17:41 GMT

    Simple solution is to use the A-team tours to acclimatize your prospective players. SA seems to be doing this pretty well. India did this and nearly won a match but for their bowling in the SA series. The solution is there, but not all teams use it properly. --- Another solution is to hire/consult good local help. Hiring saqlain by WI- made them better bowlers. --- There is no substitute for good defensive techniques though. Currently, all teams suffer from lack of defensive players- who can bat sessions or bowl maidens for sessions. This is what has made the series completely one sided.

  • On-Drive on January 12, 2014, 17:02 GMT

    England lost because of Johnson. Back to back series is a minor reason for their defeat and used as a major excuse by the English players/press/supporters. Prior ashes series played in Australia were played just before the world cups. England quoted that as a reason for poor world cup performances. Hence, it is England who badly wanted this back to back series so that their players can be fresh for the world cups. You cannot have it both ways. Most English players had 2 to 3 months layoff before playing in the current ashes series.

  • Waves239 on January 12, 2014, 16:20 GMT

    Brilliant article from Ian postulating about the home series domination in tests! Problem with short 2-3 test series is there is never enough time for visitors to adapt to conditions and problem with 4-5 test series is no visiting team fighting against the momentum of hosts and bounce back in the amid of test series.

    Go with traditional format of 2 first class games, then 4-5 test match series scheduling one FC in between 2-3 test match and ending series with 5 ODIs and 2 T20s. Let a tour be a complete tour not a picnic!

  • irfi4040 on January 12, 2014, 15:53 GMT

    There is yet another option to make a test series evenly contested. Why not to split a particular test series into two halves I.e half of the series at home and half away from home. Will someone be able to predict the result of the series if that be the case? Well I dont think so and thats what is exactly needed to maintain the level of interest throughout the series. I request ICC to seriously consider this option. I hope Sir Ian Chappel would also agree with me.....

  • EdwinD on January 12, 2014, 13:46 GMT

    I know it might be a radical move, but to minimise the stress of internal travel, especially in larger countries like Australia and India, why don't the ODIs at a venue follow the Test? At least this way all concerned (including travelling supporters) would be at a city for 10 days or so, travel costs reduced, and for the players the stress of living in a hotel and a suitcase would be minimised....it may also help to keep interest for the ODIs and allow fringe and out-of-form players to at least have a run-out albeit for a day.

  • David_Bofinger on January 12, 2014, 13:07 GMT

    Back in the good old days they used to have matches where the weaker side got more than eleven players. I think the non-test nations would agree to an occasional match like that, and it would be interesting to watch a test-class batsman trying to find a gap in a dense field. And if such matches became common, it might become possible to do it between test nations as well. How would Australia A fare against the Afghanistan XIII?

  • on January 12, 2014, 12:47 GMT

    I guess the girst step should be getting the ranking system right. As India inspite of losing their last all overseas tour are rank second and a competitive team like Australia or England are below India. I guess grading system needs to improve. Secondly ICC should manage a full ftp including 3 test and 5 odis and no board should be allowed to cross that. Because people would love their cricketers to perform well for nation not ipl.

  • on January 12, 2014, 12:45 GMT

    Good observation by Ian. Touring teams should get more exposure by playing with the local teams of good reputation. Those were the days in which foreign teams touring India used to play with North,Central,South,East,West zones as well as Ranji Champions. I still remember players like Brijesh Patel, Gopal Bose, Partha Sarathi Sharma, Anshuman Gaikwaad, Narendra Hirwani, Navjyoth Sing Siddhu etc. caught the eyes of selectors during those matches. As Ian observed players of the touring teams were able to pick up the right thread as tour progressed.

  • on January 12, 2014, 12:41 GMT

    There needs to be a change to how international cricket is played: (1) Formation of multiple tiers with relegation based on results of all three formats, tests being allocated more points. (2) Test A tours aligning with full team tours & at grounds near tests, but start & end 15 days before full team tours. (3) Warm up matches occuring against international teams only, no domestic warm ups (eg: UK tour warmups against Ireland, Scotland & Holland). (4) Allow associate countries to "loan" players to full member countries for test cricket only with no time limit on their return. (5) Players country based on where they lived the most between 0 & 21 years of age. Anyone living more then 7 years in one country (for that period) can include that country as their country. (6) Warm up matches should be even strength via rule changes. Eg: Aust A vs Ireland A, both sides field 11 players, but Ireland allowed four player substitutes during the game. (7) Increase tests to four sessions a day.

  • Puffin on January 12, 2014, 11:47 GMT

    That sounds like a thought that popped into my mind a few weeks ago - England needed a spare team on hand to relieve the supposedly no1 team. It's a bit like having spare cars in motor sport.

    Another problem that springs to mind is that the influence of home advantage seems to be getting a little too obvious these days. Couldn't there be some means to ensure fairer playing surfaces? Or else we go further along the boring road of home teams winning every time, unless they goof up badly or are heavily outmatched. I can't help speculating that England's summer 2013 triumph might have been in large part due to home advantage.

  • Redbac on January 12, 2014, 11:43 GMT

    As usual Chappelli has a cogent and interesting point of view; indeed an original notion. yes, offload the freeloaders and include more cricketers. it's so sensible it will NEVER be considered.

  • VisBal on January 12, 2014, 10:36 GMT

    Going through the comments posted here so far, there really only seems to be one solution. Fix the goddamn FTP! With ten Test nations in the picture, each team would need to play nine home and away series during the cycle. If the cycle were lengthened from the current 4 to 4.5 years, that would accommodate two home tours and two away tours every year. That gives 3 months for each series, whether home or away. It should be possible to schedule 4-5 Test and a handful of ODIs/T20s along with sufficient warm-up games in that period. The trick is scheduling the tours to accommodate the World Cup, Champions Trophy, T20 WC and other sundry championships. In this scheme, there is no room for the Champions Trophy, and there need not be. One premier championship per format seems to be about right.

  • ReverseSweepRhino on January 12, 2014, 9:26 GMT

    An ICC Associate XI would be a great addition to away tours. Not only would the touring teams get a chance to tune themselves to foreign conditions, but the Associate nations' best cricketers would also get a chance to play more competitive cricket.

    For the Associate players, this would be both a wonderful learning experience and a great chance to prove themselves. They would also have something to prepare for on a regular basis, and a chance to be on the ICC payroll if they played well wouldn't hurt.

  • on January 12, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    Great article by Chappell...the idea of associate players touring is an excellent one.What an incentive for association players that would be...perform well and you would be invited to tour Australia or wherever...Ireland,Afghanistan.Nepal ..best idea in a long time.

  • on January 12, 2014, 8:45 GMT

    Let's just don't make a big deal out of england ashes lost at the hands of aussies. for me the defeat was expected but 5-0 whitewash was unexpected. Playing 10 test matches in a row against a team is just not good for cricket because it's not a healthy competition. English players were exhausted because of long summer. No need to change english captain or no need to change the test series. only need to change is to not play consecutive series against the same opponent.

    look at south africa they were dominant against Pakistan the whole year but lost the last series against Pak at SA home because SA players were just got bored after playing 22 consecutive matches against Pakistan and lost 2-1 ODI series at home for the first time against any asian team.

  • Leggie on January 12, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    Wonderful and thoughtful article. I doubt though if there would ever be any thinking by the different boards and ICC to set things right. It's an extremely commercial world and unless the first class / tour matches generate any revenue, we would continue to see these matches neglected. If "Test cricket" fails, the board now have the likes of big bash or IPL to go back to. Sad state of affairs.

  • Caius on January 12, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    It is essential to reintroduce the traditional longer tours. Truncated tours such as the recent SA v India series serve little purpose. All tours should involve at least three Tests (ideally four or five for stronger countries e.g. at present SA, India, Australia, England) as well as first-class matches against the domestic states / provinces / counties. This would have several benefits: providing tourists with an opportunity to acclimatize and regain form in-between Tests; providing local first-class players an opportunity to demonstrate their ability against international competition; providing additional marketing and fund-raising opportunities for state / provincial associations; providing more television revenue. If tour itineraries are planned properly and well in advance, there would be no disruption of domestic first-class competitions, which can be arranged to accommodate tour itineraries.

  • on January 12, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    4 players should be. at the same time all teams should be given test status. because if this could be done alot of great players will be produced and the weaker teams will have an opportunity to play their players in a team with strong players which will also make their players stronger. or a two nation team can be made taking 6 players each however tri nation posses more challenge. yes this will never happen but if it does i personally believe that cricket will grow so much all over the world because everyone who knows the support loves it but we have limited cricket to a few nations and we should not do that we should give equal opportunity these teams will make cricket much more fun and also much more competitive as every player will no replacement is always on the way the problem is that its a dumb idea because its a long process and no one will agree and will cost alot but i personally think if it is done it will make everything much better and cricket much more interesting

  • on January 12, 2014, 7:50 GMT

    a tie of three nation should be made say for example australia kenya bangladesh, england ireland west indies, pakistan new zealand sri lanka, and india holland and south africa . each team should have a squad of 16 players at all times. now from those 16, 12 should be the main team which will play the games chosen from their performance and the other 4 players who maybe new comers or out of form players should be joined with their group adding each teams 4 making a team of 12 players for the tri nation.now these players should not be travelling with the team instead they should be seperate and they should play against other tri nations and the actual 12 man team for each nation and once a player loses his spot in the main team a player performing in this tri nation team can replace him upon his performance. but for this each nation will have to make two teams for themselves consisting 11 men in each team and after they play a series with each other it will be decided who those

  • RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on January 12, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    i loved that sentence : In order to avoid a cost blowout this would mean reducing the number of support staff in a touring party, which would be a good result in itself.

    there is no doubt that having coaches for every single part of the game hinders independent thinking.

    Anyways, players, if in doubt, should be contacting their childhood coaches, who know their mental attrubutes as well.

  • Protears on January 12, 2014, 7:23 GMT

    As a South African supporter I understand the sentiments of the article, November 2012 we toured Australia as number 1 having convincingly outplayed England for the title, the England series was in March or so 2012 and we toured off the back of a good run of summer series, the proof was there in the way we played against England, mostly everyone was on form. Que six months we tour Australia with no test cricket in that period to show up at Brisbane and Adelaide undercooked for the series. Again similar thing happened last year in our UAE tour no tests in over 6 months. I am of the opinion that Champions League, T20 World cup and champions trophy, along with the regular champions trophy and IPL need to go and tours need to consist of a touring team playing a month of warm ups against FC and A teams to fine tune. We need to go back to 5 tests, 7 ODI tours.

  • Nutcutlet on January 12, 2014, 7:20 GMT

    A thoughtful and, IMO, correct analysis of the trend of recent tours. The organisers (national boards) are so blinded by cash flowing into their coffers that the product - the standard of cricket played by tourists has declined markedly. In the end, this trend will be rumbled (perhaps it already is) by the cricket loving (and ticket-paying public) across the world. Cricket is not football and it cannot be treated in like manner. Players need to acclimatise before the start of a tour and then, crucially, they need to be kept in MATCH-fit form during it. A way for that to happen has to be prioritised. It is only being fair to all concerned. The goose that has laid golden eggs (until recently) is going broody and tagged for being marched towards the slaughter house. When will the people who run our game wake up? (Answer: when the $$$ signs fall from their eyes!) The bigger picture... the bigger picture. Please! I get used to whistling in the dark...

  • VisBal on January 12, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    The Associates are probably better off playing A series rather than against the first or second XI of a Test team. The only solution that is workable is to increase the length of tours. In the past, we used to have a three or four day game between Tests. Sometimes, there was an ODI. The same can be done now. We can have a FC game between Tests with maybe an ODI or two running concurrently with the FC game. That way the young players are not just passengers and will actually get a chance to play alongside the Test specialists. This will aid in their development.

  • on January 12, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    Ian, good article; many thanks for raising this issue. Whilst I enjoyed watching the Aussies rolling over England 5-0, it was tempered by the fact that home sides seem to have an overwhelming advantage in recent test cricket.

    Since the start of 2013 there have been 42 tests of which the home side has won 30 and the away side only 2. The home side in both these defeats was Zimbabwe who arguably aren't of test quality. We certainly need a way to balance it up - regular victories to nil to the home side may help audiences in the short term but, in the long run, aren't really of benefit to the game.

    Is it the itineraries, the size of the squads or the nature of "home" pitches? I certainly think the itineraries, in particular, the lack of competitive games outside the tests, is a major factor but understand why the lure of dollars means that they have been squeezed out.

  • DaisonGarvasis on January 12, 2014, 5:29 GMT

    These "Home side winning and whitewashing" has more to do with "HOME CONDITION" more than anything. Home conditions are good and bad. If you are looking for a competition in the series, you should reduce the home condition advantage, if you are looking for challenge for the touring party (so that test cricket is called test cricket), let the touring parties come and perfom in alien conditions. Nobody is giving away any favors, and then you cant call its not competitive.

  • on January 12, 2014, 5:08 GMT

    Agree with Chappell's points. Also, it needs to be examined if short tours devoid of first class preparatory games are resulting in more tests being played by the teams in a calendar year. If that is not the case, the only plausible explanation to this modern trend would be that host country wants to minimize the costs on visiting teams by curtailing the tours to just revenue producing games (doing away with as many practice games as possible).

  • on January 12, 2014, 4:59 GMT

    South Africa last lost a series in 2009 to Australia 2-1 at home. Who contributed to the Australian win? None other than Mitchell Johnson!

  • HenkS on January 12, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    As Chappel said only South Africa has been succesfull as touring team (unbeaten in a series since 2006) What is the secret of their success, or are they just so much better than all the other teams at the moment.

  • on January 12, 2014, 4:33 GMT

    A good idea in theory. Ideally having these games interspersed with the odd game against a Shield side would be better but in Australia with December and January taken up with T20 there is no chance of this. With the BBL being so television oriented I fail to see why it needs to be played when it is, especially as it is outside of the ratings period.

  • bobrandle22 on January 12, 2014, 3:57 GMT

    Hi Ian, well said, but England had others there - Ali, Robson, didn't want to gamble. cheers Bob

  • on January 12, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    it would be better if they encourage player from associate to play practice match. country like nepal, Kenya, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and lot more need to have more cricket on then

  • on January 12, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    it would be better if they encourage player from associate to play practice match. country like nepal, Kenya, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and lot more need to have more cricket on then

  • on January 12, 2014, 2:49 GMT

    One of the reasons it was easier to play many first class teams on a tour back in Sir Chappell's days was their only being one format - test or cricket or just two - test/ODIs. With T20 now in, its always going to be hard for touring teams to play much first-class games before & before tests. But i guess it would help all teams if the FTP was not so jam packed - series happen so fast & congested now - administrators really can't plan to many practice games away from the international games.

    As chappell rightfully said: "There has been no indication for more than a decade that common sense will be applied to producing a logical international itinerary."

  • on January 12, 2014, 2:44 GMT

    Great ideas from Chappelli .

  • bobrandle22 on January 12, 2014, 2:40 GMT

    Hi Ian, What your saying is right, but England had the likes of Ali & Robson here to bring into the team , but stayed with players that kept failing. cheers Bob

  • bobrandle22 on January 12, 2014, 2:40 GMT

    Hi Ian, What your saying is right, but England had the likes of Ali & Robson here to bring into the team , but stayed with players that kept failing. cheers Bob

  • on January 12, 2014, 2:44 GMT

    Great ideas from Chappelli .

  • on January 12, 2014, 2:49 GMT

    One of the reasons it was easier to play many first class teams on a tour back in Sir Chappell's days was their only being one format - test or cricket or just two - test/ODIs. With T20 now in, its always going to be hard for touring teams to play much first-class games before & before tests. But i guess it would help all teams if the FTP was not so jam packed - series happen so fast & congested now - administrators really can't plan to many practice games away from the international games.

    As chappell rightfully said: "There has been no indication for more than a decade that common sense will be applied to producing a logical international itinerary."

  • on January 12, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    it would be better if they encourage player from associate to play practice match. country like nepal, Kenya, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and lot more need to have more cricket on then

  • on January 12, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    it would be better if they encourage player from associate to play practice match. country like nepal, Kenya, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and lot more need to have more cricket on then

  • bobrandle22 on January 12, 2014, 3:57 GMT

    Hi Ian, well said, but England had others there - Ali, Robson, didn't want to gamble. cheers Bob

  • on January 12, 2014, 4:33 GMT

    A good idea in theory. Ideally having these games interspersed with the odd game against a Shield side would be better but in Australia with December and January taken up with T20 there is no chance of this. With the BBL being so television oriented I fail to see why it needs to be played when it is, especially as it is outside of the ratings period.

  • HenkS on January 12, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    As Chappel said only South Africa has been succesfull as touring team (unbeaten in a series since 2006) What is the secret of their success, or are they just so much better than all the other teams at the moment.

  • on January 12, 2014, 4:59 GMT

    South Africa last lost a series in 2009 to Australia 2-1 at home. Who contributed to the Australian win? None other than Mitchell Johnson!

  • on January 12, 2014, 5:08 GMT

    Agree with Chappell's points. Also, it needs to be examined if short tours devoid of first class preparatory games are resulting in more tests being played by the teams in a calendar year. If that is not the case, the only plausible explanation to this modern trend would be that host country wants to minimize the costs on visiting teams by curtailing the tours to just revenue producing games (doing away with as many practice games as possible).