EXCLUSIVE: Sky Sports are behind ECB decision to stop staging England Test matches in August, with next year’s Ashes set to finish in July for the first time ever to avoid clashing with the Premier League
- England’s men will not play any Test matches in August from 2023 to 2027
- Next year’s Ashes series will end in July for the first time in its 140-year history
- Sky Sports are behind the decision, despite the ECB getting criticism for the call
- Sky want to avoid England games clashing with their Premier League coverage
The ECB’s controversial decision to stop staging England matches during August was the result of a request from Sky Sports, who are eager to avoid international cricket clashing with their Premier League football coverage.
Next year’s Ashes will finish in July for the first time, while under the Future Tours Programme unveiled last week there will be no international cricket played in England in August from 2023 to 2027, with the Hundred given primacy.
Much of the criticism of that decision has focused on the ECB’s desire to create a window for the Hundred to enable England stars such as Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow to play in the competition.
Ben Stokes’ England team will not play any Test matches in August for the next five years
Australia are the current holders of the Ashes, winning the 2021-22 series 4-0 down under
However, Sportsmail has learned that Sky’s desire to avoid a clash between their prime cricket and football offerings was the major factor behind the decision.
The satellite broadcaster agreed a new £880million contract for live rights to England’s home matches from 2025 to 2028 last month.
That gives them huge influence over the ECB’s scheduling.
The majority of Sky’s summer marketing and promotion is based around the return of the Premier League — which began on August 5 this season.
And executives expressed a preference for their most valuable cricket content taking place earlier in the summer, when their schedule is less packed.
The ECB were happy to accommodate Sky’s request because bringing Tests forward will enable more big-name players to appear in the Hundred, which has been starved of star quality since its launch last year.