Today's first of three one-day internationals between England and Australia at Headingley takes cricket further down the road of the artificial by allowing - for the first time - a 12-a-side format.
The trial rules allow both sides to nominate a substitute before the toss because, so Sunil Gavaskar, Angus Fraser and the ICC cricket committee insist, the 50-over format has become too predictable.
The suggestion is a mockery after one of the most absorbing one-day Finals played at Lord's. The balance of both sides' selection made an enormous contribution to the last 15 overs of high drama.
How would Ricky Ponting's decision to give himself a four-man attack solve an increasingly difficult equation, in which he wanted to bowl Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee at the death, but could do that only by reluctantly using bowlers he didn't want to between the 38th and 45th over?
Conversely, Michael Vaughan dealt himself a nap hand but at the cost of a batting tail of Simon Jones, Darren Gough and Steve Harmison.
All that increased the excitement of the crowd who thrilled to watch Brad Hogg and Michael Hussey bowl against Ashley Giles and the make-ups.
It was marvellous theatre which would have been besmirched by both sides using substitutes; i. e., Vikram Solanki coming in to bat instead of Gough, and facing Mike Kasprowicz as a
regular bowler, on instead of, say, Matthew Hayden.
Namely, the final act could have been played out by two cricketers who were on the
field for no more than ten of the scheduled 100 overs.
The beauty of one-day cricket - and it is often a struggle to use such a phrase - is that, having made their choice before the toss, captains have to make do and mend with their chosen XI, irrespective of any selection mistake made.
Today, it won't matter. A captain has the safety net of being able to change tack mid-match. The substitute rule is wrong and erodes the very fabric of cricket in which the best 11 play the best 11.
The war of words continues with both coaches joining in. Australian John Buchanan is cricket's answer to Alastair Campbell and has never been short of an angle but, surprisingly, Duncan Fletcher has put his head above parapet with claims that the Australian body language has become tentative from the captain downwards.
All nonsense of course. Any suggestion that Ricky Ponting's use of huddling team talks twice an over in the closing overs at Lord's will be put into perspective by Shane Warne in two weeks' time. He will take over the dressingroom and has the sharpest cricketing brain in world cricket.
Never mind Andrew Flintoff, Harmison, Adam Gilchrist, Ponting, Lee, Hyaden et al, Warne will dominate the Ashes series with and without the ball.
If he is injured, England can compete and even win their first Ashes series for 18 years. If he stays fit, forget it.
This three-match oneseries could have provided a good guide to the Ashes contest. Not any more; not with the use of substitutes which debase the currency of oneday cricket.