There appears to be lot of cricket for England to play over the next 9 months or so. Having watched England win the latest 20/20 series in New Zealand with a shocker of a performance sandwiched between two very good ones, I had a look at the fixtures due to be played and there seems to be little wonder that so many different players are being used in the various formats of the game. There are 30-35 players who are in, or on the fringes of the England cricket squads. I still think this is too many but the fixtures they have lined up suggest that extensive resting and clever use of key players (particularly bowlers) will be required to keep everyone fresh. Including the series just played England will play the following fixtures by January 2014:
- 3 20/20 matches in New Zealand
- 3 ODI’s in New Zealand
- 3 Tests in New Zealand
- 2 Tests at home to New Zealand
- 3 ODI’s at home to New Zealand
- The ICC Champions Trophy (potentially 5 matches)
- 2 20/20 matches at home to New Zealand
- 5 Tests at home to Australia
- 2 20/20 matches at home to Australia
- An ODI at home to Ireland
- 5 ODI’s at home to Australia
- 5 Test matches in Australia
- 3 20 20 matches in Australia
- 5 ODI’s in Australia
So potentially 107 days of cricket without even thinking about the travel, intense training sessions, tour matches, county cricket, IPL or Big Bash fixtures. I don’t necessarily buy into the argument of players burning out or that they are being miss-treated in any way. After all, these men are paid a lot of money to play a sport that they presumably love and get to travel the world doing it.
I do fear though, that the powers that be may not be giving the team the best chance of success in any format by playing such a huge number of fixtures. There is a massive risk in playing a large number of relatively unimportant fixtures of players getting injured, potentially affecting the teams performance in the really important games. I understand that they need to cater for the sponsors, TV and the popularity of 20/20 cricket, but i think this fixture list could be slimmed down considerably. Is there really an appetite for 19 ODI’s in a year? Not at the expense of the fitness of Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, or Steve Finn for Test match cricket in my opinion.
In the last 12 months we have seen what happens when Broad and Bresnan play matches at 80%. They are simply not good enough, and its vital that we look after Steve Finn if we still want him to be steaming in at 90mph against the Aussies past the age of 26. Fast bowlers put huge strain on their bodies, and we need to see them doing it, fully fit in the big matches, not in a half-arsed ODI put on only for corporate sponsors and a bit of extra TV money.
Picture by BBC