I presume it was merely a coincidence that the England and Wales Cricket Board published its schedule for the summer of 2012 in the same week as the England squad for a whistle-stop tour of India was announced.
Next summer is rammed – with three Twenty20 matches against South Africa finally bringing the curtain down on a season containing no fewer than 23 international fixtures (only six being Tests) and which ends less than a week before England defend their World T20 crown in Sri Lanka.
It now seems pointless warning the administrators against the proliferation of one-day cricket, in particular. They simply are not listening, and will only learn when it is too late and the paying spectators vote with their feet. It is sad, but true.
The tour of India (5 ODIs and a T20) is purely for television cash. After all, England return to India next winter for four Tests and seven – yes seven – more ODI’s, so this is not about a commitment to the ICC’s Tour Programme, which is supposed to be the framework the Test-playing nations adhere to.
This trip is everything that is bad about the world cricket boards’ thirst for money, which is put ahead of the game and the well-being of its players. One only had briefly to watch India’s jaded and apparently uninterested cricketers here this summer to recognise burn out, and the adverse effect it has on the standard and competitiveness of the game.
At least James Anderson has been spared the India trip, and can get his feet up after an exhausting and hugely successful summer. This gives Chris Woakes the chance to return, while the wildcard call-up is Surrey’s Stuart Meaker. He reminds some onlookers of a young Darren Gough, and appears also to have Goughie’s self-confidence.
“I’ve got a great deal of natural pace”, he announced coyly when asked what he might bring to the England squad – and his County Championship figures, at least, back that up. He took his 44 wickets at a strike rate of one every six overs in the summer, and while his one-day record is less impressive this short trip will allow the management and coaching staff to assess him at close quarters.
No one seems entirely sure why Kevin Pietersen was left out of the last ODI squad – was it to give him a rest or was it down to his poor form in the 50-over format? Reports suggested he was not best pleased either way. However, I was assured at the time that KP would return for this tour, and it will be very interesting to see how he responds.