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Ashes 2023

ECB chair: England have elevated and reinvented Test cricket – we need to have a debate over how to prevent washouts

Rain stops play, Old Trafford, Ashes 2023
by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

ECB chair Richard Thompson has promised to speak to the ICC after rain denied England a chance of keeping their quest to turn around the 2023 Ashes.

England needed to win the final three Test matches of the 2023 Ashes after Australia went two-up with wins at Edgbaston and Lord’s. They won at Headingley. Then, at Old Trafford, they took a 275-run lead and reduced Australia to 214-5, but rain denied them a chance at victory.

In fact, only 269 overs of cricket – about three full days – was possible at Old Trafford.


England can still win the fifth Test match, at the Kia Oval, to square the series and deny Australia a shot at their first series win on English soil since 2001, but they had to relinquish the urn, much to the disappointment of cricketers and fans.

Several suggestions to counter such damp squibs have surfaced since then. Joe Root recommended early starts wherever possible, an idea Ricky Ponting subsequently countered.

ECB chair Richard Thompson, however, assured on BBC Radio 4 that he would raise the subject of a reserve day with the ICC: “It’s a debate that we need to have. I will talk to Greg Barclay, the chair of the ICC, for sure, just in the sense of him understanding what England has done to Test cricket. We’ve [England] elevated that format and reinvented the way Test cricket has been played now.

“There’s significantly more excitement and interest around Test cricket now, and this is part of that broader conversation, to ensure that schedules can be more flexible to accommodate this type of strange eventuality. But we need to have that conversation.”

According to Article 12.7 of the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25 Playing Conditions, “The Home Board shall determine the hours of play, subject to there being 6 hours scheduled play per day.”

Thus, the scheduled hours for all Test matches in England can be decided by the ECB, and not the ICC or the touring countries.

“Fundamentally, people are buying a ticket expecting play to start at a certain time and end at a certain time, so from that perspective, you’re going to have to inject certain flexibility to broadcasters’ schedules, people with travel arrangements, all sorts of practicalities.

“We are in the entertainment business. You want people to leave happy and entertained. Having a reserve day – as there was in the World Test Championship [final] – would be a great idea but you’d need to do that for each Test. That’s another five days you’d need to find in the schedule. There will be a lot of debate after this series.”

You can bet on the 2023 Ashes with our Match Centre partners, bet365.

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