Allan Border rips Cricket Australia over contentious Ashes move

The controversial Ashes plan has been branded a 'mistake' by the Aussie legend.

Pictured right, Test cricket legend Allan Border and Pat Cummins on the left.
Test cricket legend Allan Border thinks the decision not to play a tour match before the Ashes is a mistake for Pat Cummins' Australia side. Pic: Getty

Allan Border has become the latest big name to question the decision not to organise a tour game for the Aussie Test team before the Ashes gets underway at Edgbaston on June 16. Cricket Australia (CA) have once again opted not to fit in any tour matches before either the World Test Championship (WTC) final against India in June, or the five-match Ashes series that follows hot on its heels.

Pat Cummins' men came under heavy scrutiny during their recent tour of India after opting not to play any warm-up matches before the four-Test series on the subcontinent. Michael Clarke was one of the biggest critics at the time, with CA pointing to the already packed cricket schedule as a main factor behind their decision.

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The players will have a training centre with a centre-wicket and nets as they prepare for the WTC final against India at The Oval on 7 June, before the Ashes starts the following week. However, it will mark the first time ever that Australia have travelled to England for the Ashes and not played a warm-up match before the series gets underway. In fact, Australia has not played a tour match in nearly four years as the Test schedule is bookmarked with international tournaments.

Rather than feature in any tour matches, the Aussie squad will reportedly enjoy a team golf trip to Merseyside, before bunkering down for a high-intensity training camp in Beckenham. While that will feature a centre wicket and nets, Border has slammed CA's plan and insists there is no substitute for actual games of cricket.

“I don’t care how hard you work in the nets, nothing replaces game time,” Border told Fox Cricket. “I’m really surprised we’re just allowing the Ashes tour to be so condensed with no cricket between the games, but that’s the way it is.

“I get it, we’ve got IPLs and T20s, I understand. The game’s moved on. But I think there’s an opportunity there for us to go to England early and play a couple of games … just to polish things off a bit.

“It just doesn’t feel right not to play any cricket leading into an Ashes series. I just think that’s fraught with danger … there’s something gnawing at me saying it’s the wrong decision.”

Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann has previously echoed Border's thoughts and believes the lack of tour-match cricket does not bode well for Cummins' men.

“You need games to acclimatise first and foremost,” Lehmann said. “To get used to the ball and wickets and pressure. No tour game is not a good idea.

"I hope it works but if it doesn’t, ‘who made that decision’ will be asked. I think we win The Ashes anyway 3-1 but if we don’t, wow.”

Pictured left to right, former Australia cricket coach Darren Lehmann and Steve Smith.
Former Australia cricket coach Darren Lehmann (pictured left) believes the Test team needs a tour match before the Ashes. (Getty Images)

Nathan Lyon comfortable with no Ashes tour match

Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon brushed off concerns about the lack of tour match cricket after responding to reporters in Brisbane last week. “When are we going to fit it in?” Lyon asked.

“You look at the schedule, if a few guys make the IPL final, they won’t be arriving in England until five days before the World Test Championship final. So it’s quite hard to schedule in a tour game these days. I’m not really sure when we’re meant to do it. There’s no point in us only playing with seven players against a county side.

“The players now are extremely professional, everyone is doing the work. There’s of lot of net sessions happening back here in Australia. Yes, we get that it’s not game practice or anything like that, but it’s not like we’re sitting at home twiddling our thumbs. We’re doing the work and I know that we’ll be ready.”

Aussie batters Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Marcus Harris, as well as paceman Michael Neser have been keeping themselves busy by playing county cricket in England, as they acclimatise to the English conditions before a busy six-match Test schedule. Others, such as Cameron Green, have been honing their craft in the Indian Premier League (IPL), with the all-rounder hoping to help guide his side into the competition's decider.

The other members of the Australian touring party have completed a three-day training camp in Brisbane and will fly out to England later this week. CA officials have brushed off concerns around Josh Hazlewood after the quick returned home early from the IPL due to soreness. The fast bowler has reportedly returned to bowling in the nets and will be on the plane with the other members of the Aussie Test side this week.

with agencies

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