In the blog I did the other day, I said how England had clearly lost momentum, motivation and enthusiasm now they've been made to stay into their fourth month Down Under to contest a long, drawn-out, and rather pointless ODI series. And it looks like I'm not the only one saying it. England captain and all-round brilliant bloke Andrew Strauss has come out and said that the long-ODI-series-following-the-tests should be looked at ahead of future tours. This BBC article sums up what he has to say. And you know what - he's right.
The 2005 summer sums it up perfectly. Starting with the T20 at the Rose Bowl, England went straight into Australia with high-intensity cricket. Winning the game by 100 runs is an absolute battering in T20, and set the tone for what was to come. The hard-fought ODI series that followed was both exciting, keenly-contested, and allowed for certain players to put themselves on display ahead of the Ashes. For one, that ODI series proved that Kevin Pietersen was ready to take on the Aussies in white clothes. Would he have been given a chance in the first Test had he not just impressed in the ODIs? The timing of that series meant that someone who proved to be a key part of England winning that Ashes played, where he wouldn't had the ODIs been played in September.
The timing also meant that the build-up (which was already pretty big) was even further exaggerated. The English cricketing public was drawn into the exciting ODI series, and were straining at the leash for when the tests started. Players were performing at their optimum, and were clearly "up for it" in the 50 over game. That couldn't be said about this current ODI series, where players have been going through the motions. In 2005, markers were being set, battle lines being drawn. Now, neither side could really give two hoots as to any messages or performances given out. This has meant as an entertainment package, the 2011 Commonwealth Bank series has been pretty poor, as the standard and quality of cricket has been very low.
In 2011, England don't really care about the outcome of the series, as the Ashes have been retained, and the target for the tour has been reached. In 2005, England were searching for momentum, and mental victories that they could take into the test series. The nature of the international calendar means that ODI cricket must be played on each tour. So why not play them ahead of the tests? It benefits the players, who are very much interested in playing competitive cricket (in order to give themselves a competitive edge later on in the tour). It benefits the quality of cricket, which in turn, benefits the paying fan (which in turn, benefits the sponsors). This can only be a good thing for everyone involved. Yet again, Andrew Strauss is right.