Sydney: Australia will have no excuses in the upcoming Ashes series because their Test preparation has been far superior to England's, Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland said on Wednesday.
Sutherland defended the scheduling of Australia's recent one-day tour to India, and said the quick change to the five-day game would have minimal effect on players in next week's first Test in Brisbane. Had rain not ruined England's tour match in Hobart last week, the three-time Ashes holders would have played three full first-class matches before the Test series.
In contrast, Australia's Test players have in some cases had an interrupted start to the Sheffield Shield season, with the Indian tour and then the scheduling of England tour matches taking leading players out of the domestic fixtures.
Former selector Merv Hughes last month hit out at Australia's schedule. "I am just dumbfounded with England being in town and preparing for an Ashes that starts in about a month's time and Australia has got a team playing in India, playing in subcontinent conditions preparing for the Ashes," said the former Test fast bowler.
"So who's going to be better prepared come the first Test match? England appears to be doing everything right at the moment."
Sutherland told a Melbourne gathering on Wednesday that one-day cricket was better than no cricket.
If Australia lose a fourth straight Ashes series for the first time since 1890 they will not be able to blame inadequate preparations, he said.
"There weren't actually a lot of players who are playing in the Test team in Brisbane who were actually in India, and at the same time there were a lot of players who were back here playing Ryobi Cup (domestic one-day series) who have been able to play in the first couple of rounds of (Sheffield) Shield cricket and had a really good preparation," Sutherland said.
"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."
Sutherland also emphasised his support for night Test matches as what he called the future of the five-day game. He said Test cricket was fundamentally flawed because at least three out of five days have to be played on weekdays when most people are working. Cricket Australia hope to stage a day-night Test against New Zealand in two seasons' time.