Posts Tagged ‘England’

Too Much Cricket?

Posted: February 16, 2013 in Cricket
Tags: , ,
A fully fit Broad is a great asset in all formats.

A fully fit Broad is a great asset in all formats.

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

Advertisements

Image

I was desperately sad to see that Paul Gascoigne has once again become ill through his well documented drink problems.  Like many others, I wonder how things may have turned out if he had joined Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United when he left Newcastle in 1988 instead of moving to Terry Venables and Spurs.  Whether he would have been able to mould him not only into the wonderful footballer he was, but also help him to overcome his many personal problems, no-one can really know.  If anyone could have helped him during his career though, it would have been Ferguson.

To see Gazza lurch from one problem to the next is sad for so many people because he is such a likable character.  We would all love to have the chance to have a pint and share a chat with Gazza, he comes across as one of us. A man on the street who lived the dream, loved playing for England and at his peak was one of the worlds best players.  His peak was  much briefer than it should have been, mainy because of some serious injuries and a career cut short by off the field problems.  His 57 caps and 10 goals for England do not do his talent justice.

Some readers may not have had the privilege of watching Paul Gascoigne play.  The closest player i can compare him to in today’s game is Jack Wilshere.  This was in a day where such a player was so rare though.  He could pick up the ball and drive through midfield, jink through tackles, pick a pass, had remarkably quick feet, could score goals and loved a tackle himself.  The tackling could sometimes get the better of him in big games, flying into challenges he didn’t need to make saw him break his leg in the FA cup semi final of 1991 for example.

I was lucky enough to be there when he scored THAT goal against Scotland in Euro 96.  A run through the Scotland midfield, a deft touch over Colin Hendry’s head to make a fool of one of Europe’s finest Centre-Halfs followed by a crushing volley past the keeper for one of the best goals ever scored in an England jersey.

Sadly, for any great goal , inspirational game or audacious flick there is a story about drink, drugs, nightclubs or violence.  Gazza is the very definition of flawed genius.  Why is it that some of footballs very brightest talents seem particularly susceptible to addictions and mental illness it is difficult to say, but Maradona, Best, Ronaldo (the Brazilian variety) as well as Gascoigne himself have all suffered some similar problems.  Is it the pressure to perform at a young age, being thrust into the limelight when not suited to it or simply having the wrong people in their circles?  I’m not sure we can say.

Image

What I can say is that I wish all the best to one of my boyhood idols in his latest battle against addictions and personal problems.  I thing its fair to say that it will be much more difficult than football ever proved for the best instinctive player I ever saw play.

*Pictures from tumblr and The Mirror