Cricket Australia's misplaced notion

The Australian establishment’s defence that there would be no burnout if players took their vacation in April and May and did not play in the Indian Premier League is laughable. How many of the officials would spurn a chance to play in the IPL, which actually helps a player not to worry about his future because of the financial rewards?

New Zealand batsmen Kane Williamson and Tom Latham during a break on a hot humid day, the second day of the first cricket Test match between India and New Zealand at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur.   -  V. V. Krishnan

Australia’s recent loss in all five one-day games in South Africa has led to plenty of debate down under about resting players to avoid their burnout. The Australian team to South Africa were without some of their regular bowlers, and that meant that even if they got runs over 300 they could not defend the total against the rampaging South Africans. India saw last year how the South African batsmen can destroy an attack. This time round, despite the absence of AB de Villiers, the South Africans were perhaps even better than they were in India, as they won all five games with relative ease.

 

Many former Australian players came up with criticism about the policy of resting key players for some matches. The establishment’s defence that there would be no burnout if players took their vacation in April and May and did not play in the Indian Premier League is laughable. How many of the officials would spurn a chance to play in the IPL, which actually helps a player not to worry about his future because of the financial rewards?

Some eight years ago, too, there was the issue of burnout raised by the players’ association of some boards, but that quickly died down once the players made it clear that a 20/20 tournament was not taxing and the financial security that they got from participating in it overrode any concern about burnout.

What is fascinating is the talk of burnout from players, who, supposedly, are supremely fit with the help of modern training methods and fitness regime that they undergo. If you watch a Test match or a one-day game, you will wonder if that fitness is a myth or what. After every over bowled by a fast bowler there is water, or energy replenishment drink waiting for him at the boundary where he goes to field. Every time there is a referral with the TV umpire, the twelfth man runs in with bottles of water for the players, as the TV umpire decides to view TV replays and arrive at a decision. When gloves are to be changed, there is water again for the batsmen.

Cricket is also about stamina, and if drinks and refreshments are available so often then the testing of a player’s stamina goes out of the window. The argument that as long as no time is wasted it is okay to have drinks is facetious, to say the least, for if you just time the interruptions, you will find that there actually is a delay of sorts before the next ball is bowled.

Virat Kohli is the one exception, as was seen during his magnificent innings in Mohali. The drinks that came out for skipper Dhoni, as he alternated between wearing a helmet when the seamer was bowling and taking it off and sending it back when a spinner came on, was interesting.

Kohli didn’t take a sip and that tells you something about his stamina and work ethic. By the way, the really fit players seem to be the reserve players, who run on to the filed at every interruption with drinks and towels for the players on the field and then run back to the pavilion.

The other thing that made news was Michael Clarke’s book in which he has had a go at some of the players in his team. Some of them have responded with their own versions. The ‘tumour’ bit is reminiscent of another Aussie, who had called some of the Indian players as cancer that needed to be taken out. That most of those players were part of India’s World Cup-winning squad a few years later just showed how misplaced his comments were.

Typically, of course, the eagerness to find fault with Indian players by the jealous types, and the foreign complex to believe anything and everything a foreigner says did make life difficult for those players, but they answered in the best way possible with the bat and ball. India is proud of those that won the 2011 World Cup, never mind the efforts of some detractor to cut them down.