Let’s be honest, the entire country is going to be watching England against Colombia in the World Cup, and included in that whole country is me as well.
Nevertheless, this is the first encounter between these sides as the meat of the summer gets underway, and ironically enough, were it not for the shoehorned ODI series against Australia, this schedule would make a great deal of sense. When it comes to international cricket, the T20s as the nibbles, the ODIs as the hors d’oeuvres and the Tests as the main course is exactly the right approach, and one that really shouldn’t be varied from.
It’s true that the 2005 Ashes series is often quoted as the paradigm to follow in this regard, for the anticipation built steadily to the point that the first Test felt like the climax to a summer of cricket. But that doesn’t mean it was a complete one off – the last series but one in New Zealand scheduled three of each format, with the Tests last and the T20s first. It presented a rational, balanced approach to a tour and a structure that shouldn’t be varied from in concept.
Elsewhere, the ICC have announced a revision of the punishments that can now be expected for ball tampering. The word “draconian” seems appropriate. While poor conduct needs to be stamped out, the reaction to the actual breaches by the Australian side in South Africa has been extraordinary. The schadenfreude came from the pompous, holier than thou conduct emanating from Australia in the years before, not the actual crime. It can be said that it is welcome that the ICC enforce discipline on the teams, but it is obviously too much to ask that they do so for repeated infractions over such things as over-rates, clearly.
Comments below, mostly based on the bits between the football. Oh and one last thing: here’s a lesson in how to re-integrate with supporters. The hostility towards the England football team has largely melted away after a determined effort on their part to re-connect with the fan base. This doesn’t include treating them like total idiots, and does include a structure whereby the supporters can actually watch their team. ECB take note.