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First time in 139 years, 2023 Ashes set to be moved forward: Report

Because of the busy schedule, some of England’s top cricketers, including Jonny Bairstow and Test skipper Ben Stokes, have withdrawn from the Hundred this year.

SNS |

In an unprecedented first in the Ashes’ 139-year history, next summer’s series will not include a Test in August, potentially freeing up more England players for the domestic Hundred tournament.

Because of the busy schedule, some of England’s top cricketers, including Jonny Bairstow and Test skipper Ben Stokes, have withdrawn from the Hundred this year. The hosts have played four back-to-back Tests against New Zealand and India, and are now set to play a three-match series against South Africa beginning August 17.

A report in the Daily Mail said on Friday that the 2023 Ashes are set to be postponed and will not feature a Test in August, adding that, “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 at the same time will free up more world-class players for the Hundred tournament.

Australia had thrashed England 4-0 in the 2021/22 Ashes series, with several heads rolling, including skipper Joe Root’s, who stepped down following the Ashes and the 1-0 Test series loss to the West Indies.

In the upcoming Ashes series, new England captain Ben Stokes will lead his team for the first time in one of the most heated global cricket rivalries.

The report added that moving the Ashes to an earlier slot could become a “regular occurrence under the next Future Tours Programme (FTP), which runs from 2024, with a Hundred window each year”.

“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,” said the report.

Cricket Australia is reportedly fine with the “earliest finish” to an Ashes series in England next year, given that they are in a great position to play the World Test Championship final at Lord’s in early June.

(Inputs from IANS)