Sunil Gavaskar: All for a good night’s sleep

The Indian team management has written to the BCCI requesting that in future there should be no late night flights for the team, after their flight from Port of Spain was delayed.

Published : Jul 30, 2023 11:15 IST - 4 MINS READ

Long wait: The Indian cricket team’s flight to Barbados was delayed due to heavy rains in Port of Spain.
Long wait: The Indian cricket team’s flight to Barbados was delayed due to heavy rains in Port of Spain. | Photo Credit: AP

Long wait: The Indian cricket team’s flight to Barbados was delayed due to heavy rains in Port of Spain. | Photo Credit: AP

In recent times the BCCI has been hiring a charter plane to take both teams and match officials from one match venue to the other. They also charter a flight to take the TV commentators, crew and equipment to the next venue. This is smart as it not only saves time but also ensures that there is security for the players, especially to get a smooth entry and exit from the airports. The players come to the airport and go to the hotels on arrival in their respective team buses. They don’t have to check in their bags or pick them up from the carousel on the flight arrival in the next city. All this is done for them in India by the airport staff and BCCI travel team. Nowhere else in the world is this done for the cricket teams.

The West Indies Board also used to charter flights between islands for the players and the TV crew. Last week after the last day’s play in the Trinidad Test match got washed out, the Indian team was scheduled to catch the 11 p.m. flight to travel to Barbados for the start of their three-match ODI series. The heavy rains in Port of Spain for the earlier two days had upset all flight schedules. So the team had to wait for four hours before they took off, which meant that they had lost a night’s sleep. Luckily, since there had been no play on the last day they were not exhausted, but as anyone who has endured even an hour’s flight delay knows that it is not an experience you would wish on your worst enemy. The team management wrote to the BCCI requesting that in future there should be no late night flights for the team. Whether it was the West Indies Board or the BCCI who had arranged the timing of the flight, the thinking behind it was to ensure that the players got a good night’s rest. If the flight was timed in the morning it would have meant the players would have had to wake up and get to the airport to catch their flight. With a flight time of less than two hours, if it had taken off on time the players would have been in their hotel rooms by 1 a.m. and got a good night’s rest.

We had a similar problem when we were in Australia in the early 1980s when, after a day-night ODI, we were booked on early morning flights with players getting barely a few hours of sleep before rushing to catch the early morning flight, which, by the way, was in economy class on a commercial airline. As skipper of the team then, I did speak to the then BCCI President informing him of the players’ plight. He came back and told us that travel arrangements were done by the home board and since early morning fares were cheaper we were booked on those flights. That said, the BCCI ensured, for the next trip four years down the line, the team was booked for late morning flights so the players got adequate rest after a day-night game. To some, this might seem trivial but with the adrenalin still pumping after a late night finish it was tough to fall asleep before 3 a.m. however tired you were and then to wake up at 05.30 to catch a 07.30 flight was just too much for even the fittest among us. One can be certain that with the progressive outlook that the BCCI has had with players over the years, the latest request will also get the attention and remedial action taken.

While the series between England and Australia has understandably taken centrestage, the qualifying matches for the ICC T20 World Cup going on is showing the vast gulf between some of the teams playing in the event. China getting all out for 26 is an example. Yes, we have had the odd cheap dismissal in the IPL, too, but in the qualifying tournament this is more likely to be the norm. Therefore to call these games international is really a bit too much. No wonder some batters scoring 150-plus regularly and bowlers picking up cheap wickets are common. When the records are seen, then to have players from Associate countries topping the list is hardly surprising. By all means encourage the Associate countries but only when they qualify for the World Cup should their games be given international status. The games between Associate countries cannot be equated with those between full member countries. Let me reiterate that I am all for cricket to be a worldwide game but till the Associate countries reach the accepted standard their games should not be called internationals. This is not to discourage the Associate member countries but even their most ardent advocate will agree that it’s hard to accept performances between them as World records.

Let’s see what the ICC Cricket Committee headed by Sourav Ganguly does about it.

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