England cricket officials have defended the crammed scheduling of the Ashes amid concerns it will result in the iconic series losing some of its magic.
Australia and England have agreed on a schedule featuring three series in the next two years, with 10 Tests to be played between July and January.
The Aussies will then return to England in 2015 and Lawrence Booth, editor of the respected Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, fears it could be overkill.
“Part of the charm of the big series resides in its sense of occasion,” Booth wrote in the 150th edition of Wisden, released this week.
“But 10 straight Ashes Tests from July to January will be less of an occasion, more of a routine.
“And if the cycle of two series against Australia every four years was disturbed to spare England winters containing both an Ashes and a World Cup, then no such excuse can be made for Australia’s swift return here in 2015.
“Not since the start of the 20th century, when only three sides played Test cricket, have 15 Ashes matches been crammed into so short a span.”
With concerns already surrounding a packed international schedule of Tests, 50-over and Twenty20 cricket, Booth says “one of the most durable encounters in all sport” will now be stretched to its limit.
“Administrators will point to full houses as proof that all is well. But a little of the magic will be lost,” he said.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed the scheduling of two Ashes series within six months was to break the cycle which had previously required England to play the one-day World Cup in the same winter as an away Ashes series.
The next World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand in early 2015.
But it defended the decision to host another series Ashes later in 2015, saying if it did not resume the four-year cycle then it would result in an unprecedented six-year hiatus before Australia visited again in 2019.
“Our view is that this would not make either cricketing or commercial sense,” an ECB spokesman told AAP.
“It would prevent fans and TV viewers alike from seeing this iconic sporting event for a very lengthy period and also disrupt our wider plans to use the staging of the Ashes in this country to encourage more people to play, attend and follow the sport as a whole.”