A couple of years ago The Oval celebrated its 100th men’s test match to be played at the South London venue and as you would expect the old archives of memories and matches from yesteryear were brought out as a result of the occasion.
It was great to see how the ground has changed over the decades and how test matches use to look in the early part of the 20th century in England. For me however there was something that stood out about The Oval’s history and that was there weren’t many memorable matches compared with other grounds around the UK. Could this be because it has traditionally hosted the final test of the summer at the back end of a long series?
I will come clean at this point and say I’m a believer in change and the fact that The Oval has struggled over the years to produce quality test matches says to me by the end of a series the spark has gone from it.
So would the Ashes as a sporting spectacle be enhanced if it was reduced to three matches? I think it would as in most people’s lifetime there has only been two (05, 09) fifth test grandstand finishes where you felt the urn could have gone either way.
The Ashes is the pinnacle of cricket in the two competing countries so therefore needs to stand up against other major sporting events such as the football and rugby World Cup’s or the Formula 1 World Championship.
The administrators of these sports do everything they can to ensure the tournaments don’t just fizzle out with a whimper and that the final is the pinnacle of the event so why shouldn’t cricket? I’m certain that had the F1 World Championship only come down to the final race twice in forty years then something would have been changed to ensure it would happen more often.
Traditional cricket fans may feel that what they hold dear in the game is being eradicated to squeeze in more t20 cricket but I promise you this instance isn’t the case. I am simply saying this tweak to the Ashes format may improve it from what we have now and safe guard it in the future.
We only play long drawn out Ashes series because that’s what we’ve always done, I mean what evidence is there that five is best? With three matches the chances of the urn still being on the line come the final match is a lot greater and will make the whole spectacle more appealing for the casual viewer.
The intensity of the series would be at a much higher level throughout as Ashes fatigue wouldn’t set in for the players or even the fans as what can happen now around the fourth test.
I fully aware some of you reading this profoundly disagree and think cricket is some sort of untouchable time capsule that should never change no matter how out of touch it is or what other sports are doing to gain exposure, but that’s fine. Anyway shall we go back to discussing The Hundred?
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