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England quashes Twenty20 warm-up

Source - dailytelegraph.com.au

Cricket Australia will resist adding extra Twenty20 internationals to the 2007 calendar but thought enough of the game's impact to try to squeeze one in at the start of this year's Ashes series.

Cricket Australia will resist adding extra Twenty20 internationals to the 2007 calendar but thought enough of the game's impact to try to squeeze one in at the start of this year's Ashes series.

Despite remaining cautious about Twenty20's future role, English sources have revealed they scuttled a CA plan to play a sawn-off game against Australia prior to the anticipated five-Test series.

In the first sign the ultra-shortened format is now seen by international teams as more than a hit-and-giggle, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) insisted the Twenty20 game be removed from the draft Ashes itinerary because only their Test team would be in the country at the time.

The England one-day/Twenty20 squad are only due to arrive for the VB series in January next year.

But far from being a chance to replicate the social buzz at the Gabba on Tuesday, the English feel the Twenty20 plan was possibly an Australian ploy to score a one-up before the first Test in Brisbane in November.

England were looking for more four-day games but also believe CA may have been attempting to deliver payback for their 100-run win in the Twenty20 clash at the outset of Australia's ill-fated Ashes tour last year.

While the result was played down by all publicly, the English side have since revealed it was a massive confidence boost to beat Australia so heavily and was the first domino to fall in their eventual Ashes triumph.

England pace bowler Simon Jones said the win removed any aura the Australians may have arrived with.

"There was just a sense of disbelief we were in our dug out and they'd crashed to 7-31," Jones said.

Similarly, England coach Duncan Fletcher said in his autobiography he knew his side could win the Ashes after the Twenty20 game.

"The aggression was the part I liked when we went into that match. We got into their faces, got into their space and it was so well done - it was 'we can win this'," Fletcher wrote.

Australia and England will clash in a Twenty20 format in the only international clash set down for next summer, on January 9 in Sydney after the completion of the Test series.

The enormous popularity of the Twenty20 games in recent weeks - both at international and state level - has powerbrokers keen to know more about growth strategies for the format.

CA have declared they want to learn more about the demographics of the sell-out Twenty20 crowds before deciding on whether more games are called for or not.

"We still have more questions than answers," said CA spokesman Peter Young.

"We are very keen to understand just who it was who came to the Gabba. Was it 100 per cent new fans, was it traditional fans just looking for more cricket, was there a significant component of non-traditional fans?

"All those questions we'd like answered so we can make decisions on the game for the future.

"We are very conscious in England the Twenty20 phenomenon has very much been a county product, and has helped drive revenue into the counties. We'll look into whether it is or isn't an international product."

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