The first international clash of the English cricketing summer begins at Headingley tomorrow, but as Alastair Cook's side take on Sri Lanka they will be contesting not just a traditional Test match but landing the first punches in a battle for an overall series trophy.
The ECB is expected to confirm that for the first time the tour 'winner' will be decided on points won across all three formats of the game, rather than holding discrete Test, one-day and T20 clashes.
The Sri Lanka tour comprises three Test matches, five one-day internationals and one T20 international. It is expected that four points will be awarded for each Test, two for each ODI and two for the T20 international. Whichever country wins the most points, wins the tour.
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The points format has been used in the women's game for some years, but this will be the first time it has been applied to the men's version and few people are looking forward to it.
The reasoning is obvious, says Tim Wigmore in iNews. It is "an attempt to keep fans more engaged in bilateral international cricket". And the prize this summer is not just victory over a rival, he says, it is "nothing less than reinvigorating international cricket as a whole".
However, that looks a long way off. Writing in The Times, Mike Atherton says his reaction to the points system is one of "profound indifference".
The players are unlikely to be "fooled" either, he adds. The T20 and Test teams are radically different to one another so the idea does not completely work.
"I understand what administrators are trying to achieve, but until real context and meaning is introduced through, for example, a world Test Championship, I'll enjoy Test cricket for what it is, and one-day cricket and T20 cricket for what they are," he says.
The idea works well in the women's game and could be a success for non-Test nations, says Jonathan Agnew of the BBC, but among the Test playing nations it looks like "yet another crutch for the ailing 50-over format".
"The administrators might hope that the Test series is close to create tension around the white-ball games, but what if the Tests are one-sided...? The 50-over game needs looking at in isolation, rather than tinkering with a Test format that is not broken."
With competition from Euro 2016 and the Rio Olympics this summer, it is not a new scoring system but an England side "winning and playing in an attractive, eye-catching manner" that will keep the public interested in cricket, he adds.
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