In Depth

The Ashes 2015: crazy cricket could mean 'financial disaster'

Warwickshire would have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds if third Test had ended in two days

After the first two Ashes Tests lasted only four days and the third came close to being wrapped up in two, questions have been asked about the approach of both sides, who have veered between playing aggressive and irresponsible cricket.

Not everyone has enjoyed watching the five-day game being played at a one-day pace, and Tom Fordyce of the BBC likened the breakneck speed of this summer's cricket to "a Dickens novel abridged into a series of tweets".

"Never mind the excitement. Where is the quality?" he asks. "Where is the nuance and the subtlety? Where are the defining characteristics of a game like no other?

"It has borne as much resemblance to the Test cricket many were brought up on as a smartphone does to a curly-corded rotary dial landline."

Those views might sound curmudgeonly, but there are other reasons to bemoan the situation.

With the Tests sold out, the ECB and hosting counties want to see the matches stretch to five days to maximise revenue. Three and four day Tests might thrill the fans, but they do not fill the coffers.

A two-day Test would have been a financial disaster, says the Daily Telegraph. "Had England secured their win on Thursday, Warwickshire would have had to refund all tickets for day three and lost substantial bar takings and income from sold-out hospitality, for which they were not insured," says Nick Hoult of the Daily Telegraph.

Counties have insurance to cover the cost of refunds if a day's play is washed out or a match finishes early, but for a sport that struggles to fill grounds losing two days of play in front of a full house is a real concern.

Cricket "is a sport under both financial and cultural pressure", reported the BBC earlier this summer. "The Ashes provide a stimulus like nothing else." Losing four out of the first 15 days in the series will not help the sport.

The importance of international fixtures is illustrated by the plight of Yorkshire, which recorded a loss of £600,000 in 2013. The county laid the blame on the fact that it was overlooked as an Ashes venue, and then saw its two international matches, an early season Test against New Zealand and a one-day international, hit by bad weather, reported Cricinfo.

Lancashire missed out on an Ashes Test this summer, but was awarded a match in 2019, prompting chief executive Daniel Gidney to declare that the decision had secured the county's financial future

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