All england can hope for tomorrow is that they can make for home without further mishap. A win in the ninth and, it is understood from official sources, final limited-overs international of their tour of Australia would be an indubitable bonus.
Arriving back in the Old Dart on Tuesday and reassembling three days later to travel to the World Cup in the sub-continent without addition to the crocked backs (two), knees (one), calves (one), hamstrings (one), sides (one) and abdomens (one) that have emasculated their squad for this cumbersome one-day series is the real height of their ambition. Escape that intact now and they may consider themselves capable of regrouping in time to have a proper tilt at planetary glory.
Andy Flower, the England coach, said yesterday: "I would be very reticent to say that it's affecting our chances in the World Cup because we intend to go out there and do well. Obviously it's not ideal preparation. We have got six injured and some have got some significant niggles. So it's not ideal preparation but we do not set the itineraries so our job is to deal with it. That's all that we can do."
Flower intends to raise the matter of the schedule with his bosses at the England and Wales Cricket Board in his post-tour report – should ever he have time to compose it. England not only played five Ashes Tests in six weeks but then faced nine one-day matches (two in the Twenty20, five in the 50-over format) in six different venues spread over 25 days. For now, he merely wants the match in Perth to go smoothly.
Australia are resting both their captain, Michael Clarke, and opening batsman, Shane Watson, from the match tomorrow. It means that 11 of their 30 World Cup players will not be available. If this demeans the match as an international contest, it is also understandable that they are looking forward to the World Cup.
It is a blessing that this is the last time both countries will have the slog of an Ashes series and a one-day tournament before a World Cup. The rotation of tours of Australia is being changed to avoid the clash. It means that England will return to Australia in 2013-14, after the 2013 Ashes in England. The sides will then meet again in England in 2015 and it will return to the traditional cycle thereafter.Reuse content