England’s World Cup cricket hero Ben Stokes has been nominated along with Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson for New Zealander of the Year.
Test cricket will take a short break for an ODI series against New Zealand and everyone’s losing their minds.
The Daily Telegraph’s Ben Horne called it “a nonsensical change in formats” in the middle of the Test summer.
A bit dramatic.
In this hyperbole, it seems everyone is forgetting the old format of the Adelaide Test being scheduled during Australia Day, which meant Test matches were spread out over the entire summer.
Take 1996-97 for example. The West Indies played Australia over five Tests starting on November 22 in Brisbane. The final Test was in Perth starting on February 1.
During the Test series, a triangular one-day competition was also played.
The first game of the ODI series between the West Indies, Pakistan and Australia took place just a few days after the second Test.
Three more matches in coloured clothes were played before the Boxing Day Test, and then the ODI series took a break for more Test cricket.
The ODI series then started up again in the new year and was completed on January 20, just in time for the fourth Test between Australia and the West Indies in Adelaide.
This was way more disjointed than the fixtures for this summer, and there was no Twenty20 to worry about.
‘But what about Sheffield Shield,’ I hear you ask. ‘Surely, this was still going to allow our Test hopefuls a chance to get much-needed match practice unlike 2016?’
Wrong. Tasmania played Victoria on December 6-9 in 1996 and there wasn’t another Shield game until December 19.
The scheduling for 2016-17 may not be perfect but it never will be in everyone’s eyes. Unlike 20 years ago, at least a Test series has been completed before the format changes.
The way the summer ends has also come under intense scrutiny.
Australia travels to New Zealand for more ODIs before returning for a couple of Twenty20 matches against Sri Lanka. This is squeezed in just before a tour to India.
Australia’s first Test match in India starts the day after the final Twenty20 against Sri Lanka.
What this obviously means is that no Test players are likely to take part in the Twenty20s. I don’t see this as a bad thing. It will give our domestic Big Bash stars a chance to represent Australia and it might prove that our Twenty20 team doesn’t need any of our Test stars to be successful.
With Twenty20 domestic leagues taking up a lot of fixture space on the calendar it’s going to get tougher for administrators to get the balance right. Yes, Cricket Australia can improve, but they’ve done a pretty decent job considering how much cricket in three formats they’ve got to fit in.