Crammed itinerary reduces quality of international contests
The resting of first-choice players during major international series is causing concern for the Australian Cricketers' Association and reducing the value of top-level limited-overs contests. Australia are currently playing a series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates without the captain Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey and Mitchell Johnson, who are back home preparing for the tour of England from June.
"The ACA has said for many years that international sport should always be the best against the best," the chief executive Paul Marsh told the Sun-Herald. "Unfortunately, for workload reasons, a high proportion of one-day internationals and Twenty20 games now don't provide this contest. As such we are definitely concerned about the impact of resting the game's biggest drawcards.
"For those players in all three Australian teams, who are our most important players, the current schedule is unsustainable. They are away from home for roughly 10 months per year and this places a huge stress on players and families."
The changes in personnel for tours such as the one to the UAE alter the status of the Australian side from the best in the country to an outfit including more representatives from the fringes. "Some see this as a good thing as there are more players getting the opportunity to represent Australia," Marsh said. "We don't necessarily agree with that.
"The opportunities for more players to represent Australia are a by-product of a volume of cricket that prevents first-choice players being able to play in all scheduled games. If the volume of cricket played was at a more reasonable level, I don't think we'd see anything but our best available teams selected."
Postponed tours to Pakistan have contributed to the backlog of games, which means Australia will play almost non-stop from September 2008 to early in 2010. "If the fans think there is too much cricket then attendances and TV ratings will drop and revenue streams such as media rights and sponsorship will fall," Marsh said. "Our view is that the amount of Test cricket is about right, but cricket needs less one-day games."