The Ashes won’t feature a Test in August for the first time in 139 YEARS after Hundred withdrawals


Next summer’s Ashes won’t feature a Test in August for the first time in 139 YEARS which would mean more England players available for The Hundred following this year’s withdrawals of Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow

  • The 2023 Ashes are set to be moved forward and will not feature a Test in August
  • It will be the first time in 139 years that the month hasn’t seen a home Ashes Test
  • Move would give The Hundred, played in August, access to England players 
  • Test captain Ben Stokes and batter Jonny Bairstow both withdrew this year 

Next summer’s home Ashes will be the first in 139 years to not feature a Test starting in August, under plans that would give the Hundred better access to England players.

Such scheduling will further antagonise traditional supporters of the game, who are worried about its future amid a glut of Twenty20 leagues springing up around the globe.

But an early-summer Ashes series would suit the ECB and Cricket Australia for multiple reasons.

Australia are the current holders of the Ashes after beating England 4-0 in the last series

New England captain Ben Stokes will lead his side in an Ashes for the first time next year

New England captain Ben Stokes will lead his side in an Ashes for the first time next year

This month, Test captain Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, England’s man of the summer, pulled out of contracts with Northern Superchargers and Welsh Fire respectively to rest ahead of the three Tests against South Africa.

These withdrawals, while understandable from a cricket perspective given the unrelenting nature of England’s calendar, went against the ECB’s long-term pledge that their flagship 100-ball competition would feature the country’s top talent.

Freeing up August exclusively for limited-overs cricket would increase the likelihood of the biggest names playing some part, while also helping preparations for the World Cup.

Former captain Joe Root was in charge when Australia won the 2021-22 Ashes series 4-0

Former captain Joe Root was in charge when Australia won the 2021-22 Ashes series 4-0

Bowler Pat Cummins lifted the urn in his first series as Australia captain earlier this year

Bowler Pat Cummins lifted the urn in his first series as Australia captain earlier this year

England’s defence of the 50-over trophy they won in 2019 begins on the Subcontinent next October, and finishing the season with a white-ball diet would provide opportunities for Jos Buttler’s team to tune up.

Australia are understood to be agreeable to the earliest finish to an Ashes series here, given that they are in the box seat to play in the World Test Championship final at Lord’s in early June.

That fixture would therefore serve as preparation for five further matches in seven weeks against England, who could warm up with a Test against Ireland or Afghanistan.

Moving the marquee Test series of the summer to an earlier slot is likely to become a regular occurrence under the next Future Tours Programme, which runs from 2024, with a Hundred ‘window’ each year.

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