England's Cricket Schedule Faces Complications—It's Time for the ECB to Act

Dave HarrisCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2008

Pundits around the globe are questioning the future of test cricket in the wake of the success of the Indian Premier League's Twenty20 competition and national cricket boards are making plans to try and join the bandwagon by creating their own versions.

Meanwhile, England's future test programme is looking rather shaky.

Finally able to deal with the political hot potato that is Zimbabwe and replace the planned series next spring with one against Sri Lanka, the ECB began to run into problems with the availability of Sri Lanka's top stars.

Having already committed to the IPL for April and May 2009, the players in Sri Lanka expressed their disappointment to the Sri Lankan Cricket Board, and the board promptly gave in. They have suggested that the team they send to England will be comprised of second-string players if necessary.

The latest shenanigans, however, surround this winter's tour to India.

The ECB agreed to a short tour for two very good reasons—so that it doesn't clash with the money-spinning and highly anticipated tour by Australia, and so that the players can be home for Christmas.

But now they have found that the itinerary for the tour sees the tests being played at Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium, a much smaller facility than the nearby Wankhede Stadium, and a ground that has not hosted a test since 1973.

Supporters' organisations are rightly going to be upset. In addition to Mumbai stadium, the tour includes several smaller venues (Jamshedpur, Guwahati) that have not formed part of the recent cricketing culture.

Ultimately, the tour is becoming more of a joke with every new announcement. Not only are the ECB being insulted with each subsequent offer by the Indian board, the cricketing public are being short-changed.

Do we really need to see seven one-day internationals?  Couldn't three of them have been replaced by an additional test match?  Why aren't England being invited to play at the biggest and best test venues?  There's no test in Chennai or at Eden Gardens, Calcutta.

How far are the ECB being asked to compromise to fit the Australian tour in?

It's about time that the ECB stood up a bit more for English cricket, and insisted on some respect.  It's time they looked at the international calendar and made sure that it suits England's needs as well as other boards'.

As the only nation naturally playing cricket during the northern hemisphere summer, it shouldn't be difficult to arrange tours that suit everybody, not just the isolated commercial interests of the Indian board.