Image courtesy of: Sydney Morning Herald
Sutherland believes Australia are much more prepared than England heading into the Ashes
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has insisted that the national team are better prepared for the Ashes series in comparison with arch-rivals England as they toured India for a limited over series and are now representing their respective sides in the Sheffield Shield.
Sutherland was also quick to defend Australia’s international schedule, stating that he saw nothing wrong with the national team playing a limited overs series against India just a month before the start of the Ashes.
“There weren’t actually a lot of players who are playing in the Test team in Brisbane who were actually in India,” Sutherland said. “At the same time there were a lot of players who were back here playing, who have been able to play in the first couple of rounds of Shield cricket and had a really good preparation. We’ve had a lot more cricket than England have over the last couple of months, so don’t tell me we haven’t had a good preparation because England have hardly played.”
Many Australian players have heavily criticised Cricket Australia for the pitches they play on during Sheffield Shield matches, stating that they highly favour the batsmen and don’t have anything in them for the spinners.
Sutherland responded by saying that he was simply trying to impersonate Test conditions as he believes that will help “prepare cricketers for international cricket and particularly Test cricket”.
“The fundamental thing for us is Shield cricket is not about determining who the champion state team is, that is incidental,” Sutherland said. “The real thing about Shield cricket is it needs to prepare cricketers for international cricket and particularly Test cricket and therefore the environment in which they’re playing should be as much like Test cricket as possible. We don’t want those pitches to be barren roads; we want the Gabba pitch to be like the first day pitch of a Gabba Test match.
“I’m not in any way downplaying the importance of creating a competitive environment, but we are investing perhaps $30 million a year in Sheffield Shield cricket and ultimately what we want is a competitive environment where we can drive cricketers to learn how to be successful.
“There was a temptation to chase the outright result to get six points to climb the Shield ladder and to some extent that is natural to want to be the winning team to qualify for the final. I stand by the comment that what we want is a really strong competitive Shield environment that delivers Test cricketers who can play winning cricket for Australia.”