SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: James Anderson of England appaels unsuccessfully during day four of the 3rd Investec Test match between England and India at the Ageas Bowl on July 30, 2014 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

By the time England complete their Test series in South Africa next summer, they would have played 17 Test matches in a nine-month period from April 2015 to January 2016.

It’s a staggering amount of cricket and that doesn’t take into account any One-Day or T20 Internationals that will also form part of tours to the West Indies and the United Arab Emirates in that period as well as a short tour to England by New Zealand and an Ashes battle too – the fifth series between England and Australia in six years.

Over that same period South Africa play nine Tests; two in Bangladesh, three in India and the four against England.

Among the innumerable problems with the International Cricket Council’s restructured administration are the demands that will be placed on the players from England, India and Australia who, because of the deal struck by England’s Giles Clarke and Australia Wally Edwards to keep India (and all the money generated by that country) in the ICC making it the single most powerful entity in the organisation, must “pay back” the other member nations for their “support” in backing the administrative changes.

That “pay-back” takes the form of playing more matches. The Ashes, a lucrative source of income (that doesn’t involve India), is played more often and thus loses some of its appeal and, most importantly and worryingly, the big-name players suffer burn-out.

Another head-to-head battle between James Anderson and Dale Steyn would have been one of the sexier individual duels in that series next summer, but there’s every chance that Anderson may not make the tour to this country because of the extremely heavy workload he faces.

The absence of the best players ultimately devalues the product and then, one wonders, which television production company would want to pay big bucks for matches and series that don’t feature the top players?

It’s a problem that will only worsen as India gradually tighten their already firm grip on the game.

A belated happy birthday to Mr Norman Gordon,who turned 103 yesterday. Gordon is the only living survivor of the “Timeless Test” which took place in Durban in 1939 between England and South Africa.

The match spanned 10 days, with two “rest” days, and ended – famously – when England were forced to abandon their fourth-innings chase in order to catch a ship home. At the time they were on 654/5, just 42 runs short of victory.

Gordon’s contribution included an unbeaten seven in South Africa’s second innings, following a nought not out in the first dig.

With the ball he sent down a total of 92 (eight-ball) overs in the match for one wicket. - The Star