Don’t reduce fixtures, just rotate the players

2011-04-27 00:00

INTERNATIONAL cricketers choose to make cricket their career not just because they love the game but also because they can make a pretty decent living out of it.

As a profession, it can be very lucrative and it’s becoming more and more so as money rolls into the game to satisfy the appetites of an ever-increasing viewership.

As the demand for more fixtures on the international calendar increases, international teams are busier than ever and some teams appear to be handling their crowded schedules better than others.

Alastair Cook, England’s vice captain, has given the English Cricket Board the heads-up that — if they don’t reduce the number of fixtures on their jam-packed calendar — the English players will be forced to consider strike action.

Cook made the point that English cricketers who play both one-day and Test cricket have spent just three nights in their own beds since the start of the Ashes tour in November last year and their exit from the World Cup at the end of March.

Cook’s concerns have some merit, but I’m not sure why England’s cricketers always need to find something to whinge about.

These days international teams are able to support bigger squads, which means rotating players is always an option.

If England are putting their lack of success in the ICC World Cup down to the fact that they are fatigued or have too many fixtures, perhaps its time for some introspection and a hard look at the at the depth and quality of their squad.

Communication between the players and the administrators in respect of fixtures is vital, but players need to adapt to the rigours of hectic schedules if they want to continue earning the six- figure contracts that are on offer.

At age 26 Alistair Cook is old ahead of his time. I would be far more sympathetic hearing these kind of murmurings from someone like Sachin Tendulkar who at the age of 38 has played all forms of the game in a career spanning 22 years. Tendulkar is the consummate professional: his passion and commitment to the game and his team are unwavering.

India have a busier schedule than England yet they manage to rest their star players and rotate their squads without compromising their success.

Cook’s comments are not new; in fact he admits that he has been calling for a reduction in fixtures since he was 18. I find this rather surprising, as most young cricket professionals want to grab every opportunity to play, especially at international level.

English players should be more accustomed to busy schedules than most, as county cricket involves playing nearly every day of the week and very little rest on your own pillow

Spending time away from home is definitely a downside of playing international cricket, but every career choice has a trade-off.

It’s also important to put international cricketers’ careers into perspective. They are relatively short in comparison to other professions, so maximising your earning potential is essential.

It is interesting to note that squeezing the IPL tournament into the tight international schedule has met with little opposition from players (even the English ones).

It appears that money has great power to silence the moaners.

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