There is an awful lot of cricket in any given year. Too much to focus on really. We’ve cut away the fat and picked out the big fixtures that we’re going to try and have more than half an eye on in the rest of 2022. You will disagree with some of our selections. We don’t care. You can make your own list.
We’ve spent quite a bit of time writing about fixture bloat and its various perils in recent weeks. Being both annoying and boring, it is not exactly a crowd-pleasing topic – so obviously we’re doing a feature on it too. We’ll hold that back for now though and instead try and pare back what’s happening so that we’re left with just the essentials.
We’re not unaccustomed to sifting a sporting calendar. We’ve long done this with the road cycling race schedule, which is, against all odds, even more unwieldy than cricket’s. (As a brief measure of messiness, the heavily-filtered UCI World Tour – which is supposed to pick out only the very biggest events – features multiple overlapping races as well as several that no-one honestly gives a toss about.)
The main reason we do this, and the reason we’re repeating the exercise for cricket, is simply to organise our own brain. We’re not saying all other cricket matches should be binned or that nothing else matters. We’re just taking a look at the year ahead and trying to work out what we care about most.
There are obvious gaps. We daresay we’ll write at least one article in December, for example. We’ll probably cover some of England’s white ball cricket between the India Test and the South Africa ones too. These things are filler though, defined by their relationships to other things (upcoming Tests or the T20 World Cup).
We’re not against the IPL or the Hundred either. It’s just that – for us – they’re secondary fixtures. Both competitions climax when England have a Test match. This is where our attention will be, and so it’s harder to invest in these other tournaments earlier on. Conversely, while the meat of the County Championship clashes with Tests, a little window of attention opens up for it right at the very end the season. It’s a bit lucky to scrape in really.
Another reason for doing this
Another common refrain on this website is that a lot of matches don’t matter and we don’t care and we kind of wish those games weren’t being played. They drain players and injure them and quite honestly do little more than sap our enthusiasm for bigger games a lot of the time.
We’ve long thought it hypocritical of us to say there are too many matches at the same time as consuming them all. For as long as fans and media treat tinpot bilateral one-day series as proper, full-blown, stop-the-press international cricket, they’ll keep lining up more matches for us.
A lot of those series aren’t top level cricket. A lot of the time they feature B-teams. That doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting, but it does mean they’re different and maybe we need to make more effort to underline that distinction. We’ve been writing about these sorts of series less and less over the last year or so and explicitly highlighting the matches we DO care about is another step down that road.
Here’s the list. This is where you can expect our focus to be.
The King Cricket Essentials Calendar
- Sri Lanka in India, two Tests
- Australia in Pakistan, three Tests
- England in the West Indies, three Tests
- World Cup
- First six rounds of the County Championship
- New Zealand in England, three Tests
- South Africa in England, one Test
- India in England, one Test
- South Africa in England, three Tests
- Last two rounds of the County Championship
- T20 World Cup