Non-stop action raises workload concerns

The cramped scheduling of limited-overs tournaments leading up to the IPL will barely provide any breathing space for cricketers ahead of the ICC World Cup 2019.

The tour of New Zealand ends on February 10, and soon after, Australia will arrive in India for an ODI and T20I series.   -  FILE PHOTO/RAJEEV BHATT

 

These days, the Board of Control for Cricket in India appears quite serious when it comes to managing the workload of players. But the next couple of months could be challenging for both the players and the board as India is in for some tough scheduling.

For the record, India’s tour to New Zealand ends on February 10, and soon after, Australia travels here for an ODI and T20I series from February 24 to March 13. Just nine days later, from March 23, begins the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The franchise-based league is likely continue till the middle of May, barely a fortnight before the World Cup, which begins in England from May 30.

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Though India starts its World Cup campaign on June 5, the cramped schedule has raised questions on how the BCCI will manage its players ahead of the marquee event.

Former India coach and erstwhile national selector, Anshuman Gaekwad, believes that the players should have ideally been given a ‘break’ after the tour of Australia. That, he feels, would have given them some time to cool the heels.

“The players should have had a break because the Australia tour is hectic as there is a lot of pressure on the players. Then, Australia comes to India and that’s also going to be a pressure series. It is not going to be easy. It is too tight a schedule,” Gaekwad told Sportstar.

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“I don’t know why Australia is coming again now? We have just played a series against them,” Gaekwad said.

“The workload part of it is very important. (Let’s not forget), we are getting into a big tournament (the World Cup),” he added.

The former cricketer feels that there are two schools of thought. One believes in playing continuously without a gap, the other group prefers breaks in between. “These days, the teams are playing continuously… Who would want to rest? The series are going to be important, so nobody would want to rest. Ideally, India’s home series against Australia (could have been avoided). It’s a matter of 15-20 days, and those days of break could have been ideal for the players,” Gaekwad said, making it clear that the pacers could find it difficult to maintain their fitness.

India's prime strike bowler Jasprit Bumrah has been rested for the ODI series against Australia and New Zealand.   -  PTI

 

Former India captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, also echoes a similar view. Azharuddin, who has led India in three World Cups — 1992, 1996 and 1999 — feels that the BCCI should have thought twice before coming up with such a schedule.

“The board should have thought about it before, but now its too late to make any changes,” Azharuddin said.

“We are going for the World Cup and not for any other tournament. So, the seniors should be rested properly. It is necessary that the players are fresh and fit before the World Cup,” the former captain said.

He is also concerned with the IPL. “The tournament is played in humid conditions and there are high chances of players falling sick or picking up injuries. I know they are professional players, but ahead of the World Cup, you have to be careful,” he said.

Former national selector and ex-secretary of the BCCI, Sanjay Jagdale, also feels that the tournaments could have been arranged better. “This is World Cup year and the strips in England will be different from here. So, it will be a big challenge,” Jagdale said.

“In the past, our batsmen have struggled in overseas conditions after the IPL. Though the World Cup will be white-ball cricket, the team should have gone to England early and prepared accordingly,” Jagdale said, adding: “It is sad that IPL is given top priority over the World Cup.”

But then, former India wicketkeeper and erstwhile chairman of selectors, Kiran More, thinks differently. Drawing reference to the World Cup football, More said: “This should not be a problem. All the players are professionals and all these things don’t make any difference. Look at the football World Cup. There too, the players feature in Premier League, Spanish League even 20 days before the tournament, and even then, they come and deliver. It is same here.”

Zimbabwe series scrapped?

India was scheduled to play three T20Is against Zimbabwe in March. But now, with the IPL starting on March 23, right after the series against Australia, it has been learned that the series against Zimbabwe has been scrapped. Though there has not been any official communication from the BCCI, some officials have indicated that with no time available, the series had to be called off.