Harsha Bhogle

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Too much cricket risks player burnout

So MS Dhoni thinks India need a rotation policy for players in the national team. He is right, of course, for either you play less cricket or have more cricketers. It is not that difficult to follow. And since it is unlikely that India will play less cricket - nobody does these days - you need to rest players occasionally to ensure they are fit for the biggest contests.

 

But at the heart of a rotation policy lies trust. A player will never agree to be rested if he is insecure; if he worries that his absence would give someone else the opportunity that could ultimately unseat him, he will never take a break. And for that trust to be established, while there must be complete honesty and openness in selection, there must also be a plan for each cricketer.

 

The two players who need rest more than anyone else are Dhoni himself and Suresh Raina. At least Dhoni asks for rest, and he knows his place is secure, but Raina is like one of those Energizer bunnies...just going on and on and on. But cricketers are not like batteries, you can't just discard them when they run out of steam and so they must be recharged.

 

The popular perception seems to be that must happen in the IPL. And the reason so many think that way is because the IPL is inevitably sandwiched between national commitments; the club versus country horse is then an easy one to flog. But just shoving the IPL in between is like forcing another pair of shoes into a case that is already full. If the staging of the IPL is critical, and there is nothing wrong in thinking that way, then something else has to give.

 

Assume you plan to play for nine months of the year. Then you add in the IPL, which means you are effectively playing 11 months since it does not come with a corresponding drop in cricket in the original nine months. My argument is that if you have to play two months of the IPL, that interval must be part of the original nine-month plan.

 

But as things stand, the only players getting a break are those not playing the Champions League. For those that are, and for those that play all forms of the game, the next real break is sometime in June!

 

Harsha Bhogle, is writing in his role as a Castrol Index spokesperson.

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