London: Former England player Derek Pringle is concerned with the proposed change in the Ashes itinerary at home next year because of The Hundred tournament, saying the historic rivalry between England and Australia is “cricket’s holy grail” and its dates should not be altered.
In an unprecedented first in 139 years of the Ashes, next summer’s series will not feature a Test in August, which could render more England players available for The Hundred tournament.
Some of England’s top cricketers and star attractions such as Jonny Bairstow and Test skipper Ben Stokes have withdrawn from The Hundred this year because of the busy schedule, which has seen the hosts play four back-to-back Tests against New Zealand and India and are now set to play a three-match series against South Africa beginning August 17.
The absence of some crowd-pulling cricketers from The Hundred this season is being seen as the reason for Ashes being moved forward so that August 2023 could be freed for the domestic limited-overs tournament and ensure full participation of England’s top cricketers.
However, Pringle, who played 30 Tests and 44 ODIs for England, has warned about The Hundred forcing changes in the Ashes schedule.
Writing in a column for the Metro, Pringles said, “A hot August was once prime cricketing weather except that this year, and for the next five to come, it has been given over to something as yet impersonating this great game - The Hundred. It is even proposed that next year’s Ashes will be completed by the end of July so this pampered child (The Hundred), a sort of T20-light with contrivances, can have the stage to itself. It is a reason to worry. The Ashes are cricket’s holy grail. To risk all that seems an extraordinary act of self-harm by the England and Wales Cricket Board,” he added.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has also reportedly proposed reducing the number of County Championship matches from 14 per side to 12 or 10, and the former cricketer added the move would be “dangerous” for England’s Test future.