'Time to reset the importance of red-ball cricket in domestic schedule' - ECB chief Tom Harrison after England's disappointing Ashes

‘Time to reset the importance of red-ball cricket in domestic schedule’ – ECB chief Tom Harrison after England’s disappointing Ashes

Harrison categorically denied the claims of focus on white-ball as the reason behind the team’s decline in Test cricket.

Tom Harrison
Tom Harrison. (Photo by Simon John Owen/ECB)

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief Tom Harrison has realised the need of resetting the first-class cricket structure of the country following England’s dismal run in red-ball cricket in 2021 and the Ashes.

Harrison categorically denied the claims of focus on white-ball as the reason behind the team’s decline in Test cricket but admitted the need for a relook into things and establish “the right balance” between formats.

“Sometimes the ability to effect change on something as complicated as our schedule is when you have a performance-related issue,” Harrison was quoted by TheCricketer. “It feels like this is a moment to reset the importance of red-ball cricket in our domestic schedule, for us to recalibrate how we play first-class cricket in the UK.

“Let’s have the right balance of red and white-ball cricket. Let’s look at when we play red-ball cricket. There is a debate about whether we play more red-ball cricket through the summer. Let’s find a way to be able to do that.

“These are the questions we need to ask: the pitches we play on; the ball we use. We are trying to replicate conditions in Test cricket as much as possible. We do it really well in the white-ball game. We are currently not doing the right thing with respect to red-ball cricket and we have seen that play out over the last 12 months or so.

Harrison opened up on England’s poor show against Australia in the Ashes, as they lost the series at the earliest juncture, losing three games on the trot before drawing the fourth with one fixture to go. Despite such returns, ECB chief backed captain Joe Root for his leadership “through this very difficult time”.

“I’ve had lots of conversations with him and I for one hope that Joe continues to be our captain for the foreseeable future. I think he’s demonstrated that he’s able to perform whilst holding the office. This has been a very, very difficult tour.”

We’ve got to look at how we manage fixture workloads in Covid times: Tom Harrison

Highlighting further the challenges of playing cricket in the middle of the pandemic, Harrison stated that the scheduling of fixtures must be looked into. Owing to the various disruption in the cricket calendar in 2020-21, the players have had jampacked schedules without much time to recover between two assignments in the stakeholders’ bid to make up for the lost time.

“When we get out of the immediate aftermath of the wake of Covid, we’ve got to look at how we manage fixture workloads,” he said. “It is a difficult challenge for world cricket. I don’t think we’ve lived through a year of a 72-match IPL and a World Cup in the same year. 2022 will provide that and it’ll be interesting how we manage workloads through that.

“We obviously have had a lot of postponements, shifting matches, shifting tours, cancellations in some cases as a result of the pandemic, which has put huge pressure on global boards around the world.