THE administrators running Australia's national sport have a lot to answer for following a disjointed summer that has left many fans confused and disengaged.
Cricket on the radio (and on the TV) has been a staple of the Australian summer for as long as most of us can remember.
The steady, meandering pace of Test cricket, in particular, always seemed the perfect accompaniment to a hot holiday afternoon, while the excitement that greeted the arrival of the first one-day internationals just over 40 years ago brought a whole new audience to the game.
Televised Test matches and ODIs made heroes of the likes of Lillee, Chappell, Border, Warne, Waugh, McGrath, Ponting, Gilchrist and Smith - and even the commentators such as Benaud, Lawry, Greig, Maxwell and O'Keeffe.
Today, though, officials seem to have forgotten the fans in a chase for dollars.
The scheduling of this summer's internationals has been a lesson in disruption that has cheapened the game's prized asset and robbed cricket of its rightful place at the top of Australia's summer sporting heap.
While officials cannot be blamed for the poor performances of the visiting Pakistan and New Zealand teams at the start of the season, things only went from bad to worse once the Tests were completed.
For the first time in living memory, Australia's one-day side left our shores in early January to play a meaningless three-game ODI series in India (that was only available to watch on pay-TV) and will travel to South Africa in late February for three more ODIs and three T20s.
They will then return to Australia in March for a three-match ODI series against New Zealand - at precisely the time the nation's sporting attentions will turn to rugby league and Australian rules.
By the time the T20 World Cup starts in October, Australian cricket fans will have seen just seven days of men's international cricket on home soil in 2020. Ridiculous.
Cricket officials might be heartened by the fact that the local Big Bash League and women's cricket have been among the beneficiaries of the men's scheduling debacle, but they should be ashamed by the free kick they provided to other sports - particularly the resurgent tennis.
Whether through complacency or incompetence, those running cricket in Australia have done their game and their fans a great disservice this summer.
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