Major blow for Channel 7 and Fox Sports in Australia's Ashes triumph

Australian players, pictured here celebrating after winning the fifth Ashes Test in Hobart.
Australian players celebrates after winning the fifth Ashes Test in Hobart. (Photo by Steve Bell/Getty Images)

There was a sign at the MCG many years ago that read "All we want for Christmas is a 3-day Test" as New Zealand was being garrotted by Australia in the time it takes you to mow the lawn and whipper snipper the edges.

The same message would resonate with every Australian cricket fan right now, half basking in the glory of their team's ruthless dissection of England in under 20 days of cricket and half suffering withdrawal symptoms at it all being over so quickly.

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The Poms took just the one match the full distance – the dramatic drawn Sydney Test - thanks in part to rain impacting the game early on.

The first Test at the Gabba was done and dusted by lunch on day four, the MCG Test was over before the Christmas ham went off and the historic Hobart Test lasted as long as a dirty weekend.

Your columnist was out of town for a wedding as day three began at Blundstone Arena. No problem.

With Australia only three down and needing to take 10 England wickets, couch time was surely guaranteed on Monday to watch the visitors' run chase.

When word filtered through Australia had been bowled out and England's run pursuit would begin late in session two, there was general confidence they would take the contest into a fourth day.

But in the time between the groom and bride being declared husband and wife and the reception starting, it was all over – the cricket, not the marriage.

Joe Root's men were rolled inside 39 overs in the eighth shortest Test – in terms of balls bowled for all 40 wickets to fall - since 1910.

England weren't the only ones feeling the pain. Host broadcasters Channel 7 and Fox Sports have enjoyed great ratings this summer but lose out massively when games finish early.

The truncated Boxing Day Test alone – when almost the entire country is on holidays - cost them millions of viewers and lost advertising revenue.

Fox Sports executive director Steve Crawley is philosophical about the loss of playing hours, putting it down to the vagaries of cricket.

He told Yahoo Sport Australia: "We budget for four-day Test matches and definitely prefer longer contests, but you can’t always get what you want.

"There was much to like about this Ashes series and Australia did the country proud."

Australian players and support staff, pictured here celebrating their Ashes series triumph.
Australian players and support staff celebrate their Ashes series triumph. (Photo by Mark Kolbe - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Do England deserve a five-Test series?

There's also the cost at the gate, with no play on days four and five sucking hundreds of thousands of dollars out of local economies and hitting ticket sales, corporate bookings, food, drink and merchandise sales from venues.

"If Tests don’t go into day four there is a substantial impact. The average spend per head of crowd is $195 across days four and five," one former leading cricket administrator told us.

"The early finish to the MCG Test would have hurt the most."

Given the one-sided nature of this series, it raises the question if Australia should grant five-Test series to more worthy opponents than England?

The Poms have not won a Test out here since 2010/11, losing 13 of the 15 games played in the past decade.

Five-Test series or longer have traditionally been the domain of the two Ashes combatants with the odd exception, but India and New Zealand – based on the current ICC Test rankings – would both present stronger challenges to Australia than England.

And Pakistan and South Africa could both put up a strong argument for longer series the next time they visit Australia.

Money talks in sport so let the conversation begin.

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