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Ashes 2023

‘Nothing replaces game time’ – Allan Border warns Australia’s lack of Test match warm up is ‘fraught with danger’

Australia Allan Border Ashes
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Allan Border has criticised Australia’s decision to not play any warm-up matches before their World Test Championship final against India at The Oval, which starts on June 7.

Border has claimed the lack of run-in to the one-off Test and concurrent Ashes series is “fraught with danger”. It is the first time in the history of the Ashes that an Australia side will not play any matches against county sides before the historic series.

“I don’t care how hard you work in the nets, nothing replaces game time,” Border said in an interview with Fox Cricket. “I’m really surprised we’re just allowing the Ashes tour to be so condensed with no cricket between the games, but that’s the way it is.”


The first Ashes Test will take begin in Edgbaston five days after the scheduled end of the WTC final. The five-match Ashes has been squeezed into a six week window across June and July.

The tight schedule ensures a clear window for The Hundred to take place without competing with international cricket for viewership, and enables England’s biggest stars are available to play in the franchise competition.

“I get it, we’ve got IPLs and T20s, I understand,” said Border. “The game’s moved on. But I think there’s an opportunity there for us to go to England early and play a couple of games … just to polish things off a bit.

“It just doesn’t feel right not to play any cricket leading into an Ashes series. I just think that’s fraught with danger … there’s something gnawing at me saying it’s the wrong decision.”

Several Australia players named in the squad for the WTC Final and the Ashes are still playing in the ongoing IPL. Cam Green continues to represent Mumbai Indians through the playoff stage of the tournament. If Mumbai reach the final, which is set to take place on Sunday, Green will touch down in England less than a week before the Test match at The Oval.

Of Australian cricketers who did not secure IPL contracts, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Marcus Harris have all played in several County Championship in the early part of the English season. Both Harris and Labuschagne scored centuries in the most recent round of the competition, while Smith made on 89.

The other members of Australia’s Test squad will travel to England later this week.

“We played two three-day games between the Test matches, and we played the day after the Test match,” Border said. “It was a pretty packed itinerary — but no one died, no one got injured. Everyone enjoyed themselves.

“It was fantastic. You could rest guys, you could give guys opportunities to get themselves back into form … it really worked well. We were away for four months. They just don’t do that these days.

“Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn, who were the extra batsmen on those tours, they both made a thousand runs on tour … so they were cherry ripe ready to go if they got called in. If that happens on this tour, those blokes will have had no cricket coming in. You’ve got them batting in the nets or bowling in the nets, and it is not the same.”

Instead of warm-up matches, the Australian cricketers will complete an intensive training camp in Beckenham. They had adopted a similar approach ahead of this year’s Test series in India, where they opted to prioritise keeping the players fresh.

Tour matches have become less and less frequent in recent years, partly because of Covid-19 protocols. Australia have not played a tour match before a Test series in almost four years.

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