Wisden warns of 'routine' Ashes
The 150th edition says the frequency of tests in the series may devalue the rivalry
Agence France-Presse in London
The 150th edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack published yesterday warned that the Ashes would be "stretched to their limit" as a result of numerous upcoming series between England and Australia.
Cricket's oldest rivals - who played the first cricket test in 1877 - meet 10 times in the now five-day format from July 2013, with a series in England, to January 2014, by which time they will be on Australian soil.
Traditionally, Ashes series have been staged twice every four years in England, with series in Australia taking place every 18 months or so within that period.
Most recently, England won the 2009 Ashes on home soil before retaining them in Australia in 2010-11.
The change in the schedule has come about as a result of England's desire not to face the rigours of an Ashes tour immediately before a World Cup, as is currently the case.
England have never won the World Cup, the global game's major 50-overs tournament, usually staged every four years.
But in his notes to this year's edition, Wisden editor Lawrence Booth warned: "Over the next three years, one of the most durable encounters in all sport will be stretched to its limit.
"Administrators will point to full houses as proof that all is well. But a little of the magic will be lost," he wrote.
"By the end of the 2015 Ashes, the Australians will have visited this country [England] for bilateral series five summers out of seven.
"Part of the charm of the big series resides in the sense of occasion. But 10 straight tests will be less of an occasion, more of a routine. And if the cycle of two series every four years against Australia was disturbed to spare England winters containing both an Ashes and a World Cup, then no such excuse can be made for Australia's return here [England] in 2015."
Meanwhile, South Africa's successful tour of England in 2012 saw three of their star players - batsman Hashim Amla, all-rounder Jacques Kallis and fast bowler Dale Steyn - named among Wisden's five Cricketers of the Year.
The other two winners of this year's award were England batsman Nick Compton, who was honoured for his county exploits with Somerset, and the West Indies' Marlon Samuels.
Compton joins his celebrated grandfather and England batting great Denis, who earned the accolade in 1939.