Back-to-back matches waste

cricket blogs for Yahoo Cricket Columns

A considerable fuss has been made over the international fixtures list ever since M.S. Dhoni opened fire on the crowded scheduling. The Establishment ranged itself against the Indian ODI captain, pooh poohing his objections much like a stentorian schoolteacher.


Before dismissing his objections offhand did they so much as spare a thought to the one reason why players are objecting so much now? Dhoni made a rather simple point about back-to back matches that actually have no place in a civilised cricket calendar.


Players whose feelings against excessive cricket may have received sympathy for their plight in the past may have been surprised by the severity of the reaction from the board, the ICC and the public this time.


But that is because not a whimper was heard when the ICL schedule was drawn up and adhered to in six hectic summer weeks in April and May.


The problem is the Establishment is not seeing the wood for the tress. While the cricketers’ objections to the schedule can at most times be taken with a pinch of salt, attention must be paid to their objections to the scheduling of ODIs back-to back. This is an unnecessary demand on physical resources.


The playing of two ODIs on successive days by a team had to be endured in times past when money was not what it is now and each day’s hotel rents saved meant something to the organisers.


The money poured into the game by television makes hotel rents, astronomical as they may seem to us, almost irrelevant to modern sport.


There were times when Australia would make it a point to schedule one or two weekend double headers in the tri-series in which the visiting teams would be imposed the punishment of matches on successive days, at least once on tour.


Visiting teams would cynically note that the home team was never asked to play twice on successive days, much as Pakistan are not doing in the Asia Cup.


The issue is bigger than the hosts sparing themselves while subjecting visitors to the more taxing schedule.


The Asia Cup is one of the worst examples of poor scheduling by which teams were playing meaningless, mismatched opposition in the first few days while the cricketing innocents of Hong Kong or, for that matter, Ruritania were eliminated.


To have to stage a four team semi-final league in a tournament featuring seven teams that met in two groups in a preliminary league is an aberration before which even the IPL format of home and away fixtures pales.


The need to give time for cricketers to recover from an ODI is paramount. While it may be necessary to be less liberal with time between matches in Twenty20 format cricket, more time must be given after a full ODI.


Unless the bodies of athletes are given recovery time there will be a huge compromise with them not being able to bring all their skills into play because of fatigue.


Republished with permission from The Asian Age