Australia and England meet 10 times in Tests from July 2013 to January 2014 © Getty Images
London: Apr 10, 2013
The 150th edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack published on Wednesday warned that the Ashes will be “stretched to their limit” as a result of numerous upcoming series between England and Australia.
Cricket’s oldest rivals — who played the first cricket Test in 1877 — meet 10 times in the now five-day format from July 2013, with a series in England, to January 2014, by which time they will be on Australian soil.
Traditionally, Ashes series have been staged twice every four years in England, with series in Australia taking place every 18 months or so within that period.
Most recently, England won the 2009 Ashes on home soil before retaining them in Australia in 2010/11.
The change in the schedule has come about as a result of England’s desire not to have face the rigours of an Ashes tour immediately before a World Cup, as is currently the case.
England have never won the World Cup, the global game’s major 50 overs per side one-day tournament, which is usually staged every four years.
But in his notes to this year’s edition, Wisden editor Lawrence Booth warned: “Over the next three years, one of the most durable encounters in all sport will be stretched to its limit.
“Administrators will point to full houses as proof that all is well. But a little of the magic will be lost.
“By the end of the 2015 Ashes, the Australians will have visited this country (England) for bilateral series five summers out of seven.
“Part of the charm of the big series resides in the sense of occasion. But ten straight Tests will be less of an occasion, more of a routine.
“And if the cycle of two series every four years against Australia was disturbed to spare England winters containing both an Ashes and a World Cup, then no such excuse can be made for Australia’s return here [England] in 2015.”
Meanwhile South Africa’s successful tour of England in 2012 saw three of their star players — batsman Hashim Amla, all-rounder Jacques Kallis and fast bowler Dale Steyn — named among Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Year.
An award that by tradition can only be won once by a player in their career, the honour — which is the editor’s choice alone — primarily but not exclusively reflects performances in the previous English season.
South Africa won a three-match series 2-0 with Amla becoming the first South African to score a Test triple hundred in their triumph at The Oval and going on to top score in eight international innings out of 11 on tour.
Kallis, the pre-eminent all-rounder of his generation, made 182 at The Oval while still bowling at genuinely sharp pace.
If Kallis is regarded as the best all-rounder now in the game, Steyn has the same status as a fast bowler with the Proteas’ spearhead’s career statistics standing comparison with some of the greatest quicks the game has known.
He overpowered England at The Oval and then starred again when South Africa took the series at Lord’s to replace their hosts as the world’s top Test side.
The other two winners of this year’s award were England batsman Nick Compton, who was honoured for his county exploits with Somerset, and West Indies’ Marlon Samuels.
Compton joins his celebrated grandfather and England batting great Denis, who earned the accolade in 1939.
Meanwhile Australia captain Michael Clarke was named leading cricketer in the world after a 2012 aggregate of 1,595 runs, including a score of 329 not out against India in Sydney.
That innings — just shy of the Australian Test record of 334 held jointly by Don Bradman and Mark Taylor — ended as a result of Clarke’s own declaration.