ECB chief writes to Cricket Australia regarding involvement of English players in Sheffield Shield

England cricket team
England cricket team. (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

In what can be called a major development, ECB’s chief executive Tom Harrison has sent a formal proposal to Cricket Australia regarding the involve young English players in Australia’s primary First-Class competition, Sheffield Shield. Harrison’s request comes on the back of England’s horrendous show in the ongoing Ashes 2021-22. Australia lead the five-match series 3-0 with the final game being underway in Hobart.

The Joe Root-led side has largely struggled to cope up with the pace and bounce in pitches down under. While most of their batters have been short of runs, the bowlers haven’t been able to utilize the conditions. Moreover, England’s Test team hasn’t been doing well in the last couple of years. Considering all these factors, ECB wants its players to get used to the Australian tracks.

England players need more time in Australian conditions: ECB chief

“The reality is we need to be spending a lot more time with players in Australian conditions. I’ve had a number of conversations with Cricket Australia and have written formally to Cricket Australia to ask if they would consider allowing us to put players into Sheffield Shield cricket, for example, as one significant change that we can bring to bear,” Harrison said in an interview with the BBC’s Test Match Special, as reported by ESPNcricinfo.

“We’ve had to cancel a lot of individual player preparation plans – which would have involved time in Australia – due to the [Covid-19] pandemic, because effectively, Australia has been closed, and a number of other tours that were planned to enable us to get in better shape for this tour have had to be shelved,” he added.

It must be noted that many Australian cricketers have been participating in England’s First-Class competition, the County Championship. Members of Australia’s Ashes squad, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head and Michael Neser were also involved in the 2021 County Championship.

However, fewer teams in the Australian competition – six compared to 18 in Championship – might become a hurdle in this deal. However, it must be noted that England leg-spinner Mason Crane was picked for a single Shield game in 2017. He thus became New South Wales’ first overseas player in this century.

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