Sport Comment: Time for cricket world to get priorities straight and put fans first

John Inverdale
IT’S ANY old Monday but you suspect that somewhere in the world a one-day cricket international is being played. It doesn’t really matter who between. It will fill a hole in a couple of TV schedules, exercise a few people on the sub-continent who fancy a bet and slip into the record books unnoticed and unremembered.

For that is the fate now of most one-day matches in the cluttered, unstructured, money-grabbing world of the international game.

Let’s get the Ashes out of the way and then shoehorn a pair of 50-over contests in before the summer finally ebbs away. Perhaps God is a fan of the five-day game and arranged for Headingley to be a washout on Friday.

Australia are now being packed off to India to play a barrel-load of similar events that will exhaust captain Michael Clarke and his pace attack, before England arrive down under for another inconvenient Test series, before the real stuff can resume with yet more forgettable one-day fodder.

The power base of the sport may be in India these days but that doesn’t mean the English international season can’t operate in an intelligent way that is understandable, not just to devotees, but also to the wider sporting public, most of whom thought the Aussies had long since gone home after the final Test at the Oval.

You don’t finish the football season with the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, so why allow the domestic international programme to end in such an inconsequential manner? Play the ODIs as an aperitif, the Twenty20 matches as a sorbet to cleanse the pallet, and then let us savour the main course properly. It’s about priorities.

From Paraguay to Poland, it’s another World Cup football week. Planned. Structured. Sorted. Why can’t cricket chiefs put together an international calendar that makes sense and where every game counts?

England played Australia yet again yesterday and that should always be special. Except on a busy sporting weekend, it merited barely more than a footnote.