If a wicket falls in a one day game and no one’s watching…
101 Have your say
Will George Bailey and MItchell Johnson be in Australia's side for the Gabba? AFP PHOTO/Tony ASHBY
Did it really happen at all? Will it count in the overall records? Of course it did, and yes it will.
But we may go as close as we possibly can to finding the answer to those questions, when the first one day international between England and Australia is played tonight at Headingley, in Leeds.
After an Ashes series that captured our attention completely – even if largely out of frustration, down this way – we’re into the limited overs section of the tour, and there’s a certain ‘meh’ feel about it.
England named their squad for the five-game ODI series at the end of the Ashes series, and they left Test stars and regular one-day players Alastair Cook, James Anderson, Ian Bell, Graeme Swann, and Stuart Broad out.
Whether it’s reward for a grand effort or active workload management with the first return Ashes Test in Brisbane less than two months away is immaterial; they’re not playing.
Matt Prior no longer figures in the coloured gear for England these days, Tim Bresnan is still nursing the lower back injury that kept him out of the fifth Test at The Oval, while Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes were sent back to County cricket, presumably in preparation for the return Ashes tour.
Likewise, by the time Australia finalised their squad after the two T20s, only Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, James Faulkner, and Matthew Wade remained from the Test squad.
David Warner was dropped in somewhat curious circumstances (if his form wasn’t good enough for the one day side, how did he hold his spot in the Test side?), and Mitchell Starc, Steven Smith, and Ryan Harris all returned home with some degree of ailment.
Nathan Lyon and Brad Haddin returned home after the Ashes series, as did Test specialists Chris Rogers, Usman Khawaja, Ed Cowan, Jackson Bird and Peter Siddle.
Both England and Australia have warmed up for this series with big wins in warm-up matches against Ireland and Scotland, respectively.
At the Malahide ground in Dublin, international cricket’s newest venue, we had the wonderful situation of Irishman Boyd Rankin taking 4/46 in his debut match. For England. In Ireland. Under English captain, Eoin Morgan, who is also Irish.
Boyd had, in fact, played 37 ODIs for Ireland already, and one of his four scalps on Tuesday was Ed Joyce, another Irishman to have once declared his cricket allegiance for England for a time, before ultimately returning to the country of his birth.
Just to add to the curiousness of the day, Joyce was given out for stepping back on the base of his leg stump.
Centuries to Morgan and Ravi Bopara saw England home by six wickets.
Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, the Australians cruised to victory thanks a record-breaking 246-run opening stand from Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh, and Mitchell Johnson’s 4/36. Australia won by 200 runs.
Therefore, with the Ashes series run and won, and all manner of judgements handed down on the party happenings of the winners, and the chop-and-change nature of the losers, we now head into another fortnight of cricket between the two oldest rivals in the game.
We’re told both teams will be playing for keeps, but the make-up of the respective squads tells us otherwise.
Online and social media comments from fans like “I feel let down by the selectors having paid £80 for a ticket. I wasn’t expecting to see a second XI play” represent the common attitude among the cricket-watching public, that top dollar should not be asked for if the best products aren’t on offer.
It was a view shared and aired by former England Captain turned commentator, Michael Vaughan.
Even with Kevin Pietersen, Joe Root and Jonathan Trott coming back into the England squad for Headingley, and assuming all of England’s and all of Australia’s Test squad players actually take the field, no more than nine Test players will be on show. In total.
And that’s even being generous enough to include Wade among that number, even though he didn’t play a Test.
It’s at this point we get into the usual modern-day argument of whether too much meaningless one-day cricket is being played.
Do we really need five one-day games at the end of a five Test series that has already been dominating the headlines for two months? Did we really need two pointless T20 internationals in between?
Further, England will actually beat some of the Australian players to Australia late next month.
While England’s Ashes tour starts on October 31, with a three-day game against Western Australia in Perth, the Australian one day side will be completing a three-and-a-half week, seven-game one day series against India in Bangalore on November 2.
With so much seemingly inane cricket being played these days, it’s little wonder the average fan is getting a bit restless.
Of course, we know the real reason these ridiculously long one day series are played is for the television revenue they bring in.
However, one of these days a television network is going to find out the hard way that even more cricket no longer equates to even more viewers. One day the TV execs will discover that the opposite is also true.
Maybe that day will be today, or sometime in the next fortnight?
Brett McKay is a former non-tackling scrumhalf and not-quite-1st Grade middle order stalwart. A rugby and cricket expert for The Roar since July 2009 (having joined in Sept 2008), Brett has written for Inside Rugby and Cricket Australia, and is also PLAY Canberra's rugby correspondent. He tweets from @BMcSport
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