Tom Harrison, CEO of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), has approached Cricket Australia (CA) in involving England players in the Sheffield Shield. In the past, Australian cricketers participating in the ongoing Ashes like Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head and Michael Neser plied their trade in the County Championship 2021.
“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,” said Harrison to BBC’s Test Match Special.
But in the Sheffield Shield, where the teams are six as compared to 18 in the County Championship, there have been very few chances for England players to play red-ball cricket in Australia. In March 2017, leg-spinner Mason Crane was the first overseas player in the playing eleven for New South Wales since Pakistan all-round great Imran Khan in 1984-85.
“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,” added Harrison.
Former England pacer-turned-broadcaster Isa Guha felt the overwhelming participation of England players in Big Bash League might in turn convince CA in getting some of them play in Sheffield Shield. “There’s a few good cricketers doing well in the BBL from England, and I think they could have a huge impact on Sheffield Shield cricket as well. Fans and broadcasters want a contest. Surely, it’s in the interest of Cricket Australia to say, ‘yep, some of your players who are going to be part of the Ashes can come here and play in our Sheffield Shield for a few games’.”
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