As a cricket fan surveys the scene of the international game at this point in time, it reads a sorry story with a severe lack tour schedules marring the sport 

The Ashes series, as always, is the current focal point of cricket. For England and
Australia, this series is the equivalent of a World Cup. A series filled with
history and prestige that always serves up drama, great performances and iconic
memories, something achievable when the Ashes are contested over a five game
series.

Then we have problems. Whilst two of the top four Test sides are competing in a five
game series, the other two – South Africa and India - will face off in just two.

India reduced the tour so that they could play a hastily-arranged two Test series against the West Indies so Sachin Tendulker could play his 200th Test in Mumbai. Such is India and the BCCI’s grip on the game, they can do such things at will. 

Whilst many South African and Indian fans might envy the fact that their side’s will never play in a series with such history and importance as the Ashes, both India and
South Africa could have had a five game series of their own, matching it in competitiveness and high-class cricket. This idea will remain a mere
pipe-dream.

South Africa, rightly ranked the number one Test side in the world, with a recent record of back-to-back away series victories in England and Australia, two drawn series
away to India and being unbeaten in a home series for four years, haven’t played a
five game series since 2004/05 and haven’t played a four game series since 2008.

This is perhaps a symbol as to how times have changed.

An away series to India was just two games instead of the initial three in 2010, a home
series to Australia in 2011 was just a two game series, an away series to England in 2012 was three instead of the initial four, now the India tour of South Africa will feature just two tests.

England, South Africa, India and Australia make more money off tours by playing each other – for various reasons – than playing the bottom-tier nations of Test cricket, something they’ve possibly all forgotten. 

The domino-effects of the last-minute India versus West Indies series is that now
the West Indies have begun a Test series against New Zealand heavily
underprepared and are now getting well-beaten.

Both sides could have played out a very competitive series given their similar limitations at Test level, but the West Indies had to use the first three days
of the Test match as a way of adjusting to local conditions.

India arrived in South Africa on Monday afternoon, without much time to acclimatise to South African conditions and were thumped by 141 runs three days later as a result.

The ICC need to ensure that for more teams to build up competitive rivalries with one
another, the teams of equal billing play each other more often, in lengthier series than the current model of teams playing each other in two tests and three ODI’s leaving fans feeling like they’ve had to climb out the pool before they’ve even gotten wet.

We need fewer tours, with the series that do take place being longer with more
preparation time for the touring sides. Perhaps if the domestic sides from each
country had better marketing and bigger fan-bases, tour games would be as high-profile as they once were, giving touring sides more meaningful games to use as
preparation.

These quick, slap-dash series do not indicate which of the two competing sides are truly better in any format – like the Ashes in England or the seven ODI’s between India and Australia did, but more of which side adjusts and adapts faster, which often
hampers the quality and competitiveness of cricket being played when one side
does not.

Perhaps in years to come, a series will be a thing of the past as sides play each other in one-off games, as seen by the recent rugby and football international matches
played in November. I for one, hope not.

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Topics:
Cricket
England cricket
South Africa cricket
India cricket