AS ENGLAND prepare for their one-day series against Australia, which starts tomorrow, it’s hard to escape the feeling that ordinary punters are being cheated.
Cricket fans up and down the country have shelled out in the hope of seeing Ashes heroes such as Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Graeme Swann and Ian Bell. None of them are injured and yet none of them will play.
They are being rested following a busy summer and with the winter Ashes tour Down Under just a few months away.
I understand the science behind it, that they can only play so much without needing a break, but it doesn’t make it fairer on the spectator parting with their money.
This may not be a brand new complaint, but it’s not going away and it is high time it was addressed before it starts to turn people away from the game and the cash cow cannot be milked any more.
Part of the benefit of masses of fixtures is that more people in more places get to see England play.
If the one-day team – missing their heart – are thumped by 60 runs tomorrow then you’d understand if those at Headingley decided they wouldn’t bother next time.
On the field England also have plenty to ponder as they prepare to renew hostilities with Australia in a five-match series.
The home team’s dominance in the Test arena is by no means reflected in the one-day game, and I wouldn’t like to predict the outcome of what should be a very entertaining set of contests.
As they showed in a ruthless drubbing of Scotland this week, Australia are not a bad side, and of course the shorter the length of the game, the more a team’s differences are mitigated.
Captain Michael Clarke is a class player but the dangerman looks to be in-form Aaron Finch, who followed up his record 156 off 63 balls in the first Twenty20 match with another century in the one-day crushing of Scotland.
England’s strengths and deficiencies were laid bare in Tuesday’s one-day win over Ireland in Dublin, where stand-in captain Eoin Morgan led his adopted team to victory over his former side.
He and Ravi Bopara both hit tons, highlighting England’s obvious strength in the batting department. But when it comes to bowling they have problems.
In Test cricket Anderson and Swann are match-winners with the ball, but in ODIs coach Ashley Giles is still struggling to formulate the right attack.
We may have got away with it against Ireland, but better sides, such as Australia, are more likely to take advantage.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who has also been captain and chairman of Warwickshire.