0The Ashes urnHome conditions — more important than ever?

So, Eng­land have com­pre­hens­ively wrapped up the Ashes with a game to spare. What a turn-around from 18 months ago where they were humi­li­ated by an aver­age Aus­trali­an side. With such huge swings out­come over the past 3 Ashes series the talk­ing heads have focussed on the con­di­tions play­ing a huge part. Are they right to?

As often the answer isn’t a simple one. In the case of Eng­land and Aus­tralia, yes, there is a very large ele­ment that the con­di­tions play — Eng­land have been hope­less and inept against the fast pitched boun­cing deliv­er­ies com­mon to Aus­tralia, and the much vaunted Aus­trali­an bats­men have been even more hope­less when facing the mov­ing ball. Is that all there is to crick­et though? What about oth­er test sides?

Well India have always been excel­lent at home and poor away from home, with con­di­tions there also play­ing a major part. But what about South Africa, Pakistan, New Zea­l­and, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies? All of these sides seem to be less influ­enced by con­di­tions — with South Africa being very suc­cess­ful every­where and the West Indies often strug­gling.

The prob­lem is far great­er for Eng­land, Aus­tralia and India. These are also the sides with the most fin­an­cial dom­in­ance in the game, and the biggest home-based tour­na­ments. Is there a link?

How many of the play­ers for these 3 sides have played long-format crick­et in con­di­tions oth­er than their own? Chris Rogers has played some county crick­et — and unsur­pris­ingly led the way in runs for Aus­tralia with an aver­age of over 54, with only 3 of the side man­aging to aver­age over 40. The fig­ures look even more clear if you exclude the Aus­trali­an friendly wick­et at Lords, with Rogers and Warner man­aging to aver­age 35 and no-one else man­aging over 17!

So does the same logic apply to Eng­land and India? Do many Indi­an play­ers play long-format crick­et out­side India? Do any Eng­land play­ers play long-format out­side Eng­land? The simple answer is no!

What about the oth­er test sides? Many of their play­ers DO play a lot of their crick­et abroad.

The les­son is clear — Aus­tralia, Eng­land and India all need their play­ers to spend more time play­ing abroad (dif­fi­cult with how much crick­et it played these days) or they need to find anoth­er way to bet­ter pre­pare play­ers for for­eign con­di­tions. Eng­land need more county sides (and facil­it­ies) to pre­pare play­ers for the pace and bounce of Aus­tralia and the spin of the sub­con­tin­ent. Like­wise Aus­tralia and India need more play­ers to play in county crick­et.

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