October 25, 2009

Burnout

Burned out on burnout

Andrew Hughes


'Fred?' 'Yes Harmy.' 'I feel a whinge about too much cricket coming on' © Cricinfo Ltd
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Regular readers of this blog will find that from time to time I put forward proposals to benefit the game as a whole. Already this week I have launched a petition to persuade Mr T to join the elite panel of umpires (“Don’t give me no howzat, sucker, that was going down leg-side, fool!”) and emailed the BBC to suggest that Test Match Special replace their current theme tune with the one from MASH. So while the relevant bodies mull over those beauties, here’s another corker from the Hughes think tank.

It is high time that we brought back the good old-fashioned gagging order. Under this system, no player will be allowed to talk to anyone, not even their partners, until the end of their playing career. Now I realise that this means fewer interviews, fewer autobiographies and fewer celebrity ghost-written tabloid columns. But these aren’t the only benefits.

We might also get to hear less about "burnout". Burnout is such a dramatic word. It conjures up the image of a spent firework lying smouldering on the grass or a high-performance racing car pulled over to the side of the road with smoke pouring from its engine. Upon investigation, I discovered that my dictionary defines burnout as "to become ineffective through overwork".

Still, it is hard to see how this word could be employed when talking about cricketers. For a start, you would need to define "ineffective". In many cases, it would be fiendishly difficult to tell the difference between a cricketer who was naturally ineffective and one who had ineffectiveness thrust upon him due to the demands of the Future Tours Programme.

Of course, "burnout" is really cricket jargon. It is trade speak, just as much as "arm-ball" or "googly" or "What the f*** was that, Harmison?" As such, cricket being such a high-tech pursuit, far beyond the grasp of the non-cricket-playing mortal, it is difficult to translate "burnout" directly into standard English. I suppose the nearest equivalent would be, "a little bit tired".

Now for most people, being "a little bit tired" is an indication of having completed a reasonably hard day’s work. For the modern cricketer, though, it is a kind of torture to rank alongside having one’s champagne delivered without an ice bucket and finding that the hotel bed sheets are not made from Egyptian cotton. By the sound of it, the most important piece of equipment in the English dressing room at the moment is the team fainting couch onto which incoming players are forever swooning before being revive with a sniff of Dr Strauss’s Patented Smelling Salts for Distressed Ladies.

In times past, such behaviour would have resulted in a severe dressing down from a boardroom full of snugly suited bewhiskered pipe-smokers, a beating from the senior pros and an extra shift or two down the coalmine before breakfast. We can’t bring back the good old days but we can adhere to an important Victorian motto, sadly neglected of late: professional cricketers should be seen and not heard.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Keywords: Burnout

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Posted by Fergus Pickering on (November 2, 2009, 7:51 GMT)

Anyone who wants to go on about burnout should read the biography of W.G. Grace by Simon Rae. There was a man whom started playing cricket as soon as he was big enouigh to hold a bat and went on at first class level till he was sixty. He had to be prised from the crease even when his wicket was in ruins and never, as far as I can see, refused a game in his life travelling up and down the land by train and across the water by very small ship in order to do it. And when he wasn't playing cricket he was out shooting kangaroos or various breeds of bird. Burnout? However, these Victorian johnnies were giants.

Posted by Ozzie on (November 2, 2009, 2:19 GMT)

Yeah 7 match ODI's who gives a rats, and im not just saying that because australia are down at the moment. Make it 3 Odi's and be done with it. More room for test cricket. But its not up to the ICC these days, because the game is run by the BCCI now.

Posted by Sean on (October 30, 2009, 19:35 GMT)

they're not burned out when the IPL coming flashing pay cheques in front of them. 6 weeks rest? Of course not! 6 weeks of megabucks

Then midway through the english summer when there's a lull between tests, a couple of bowlers get injured its 'IS BURNOUT RUINING CRICKET?' in daily mail-style drama

Posted by Simon Goldstone on (October 30, 2009, 16:43 GMT)

Amdrew, I would like to bring your attention to the following piece you may recognise:

For the modern cricketer, though, it is a kind of torture to rank alongside having one’s champagne delivered without an ice bucket and finding that the hotel bed sheets are not made from Egyptian cotton.

Are you trying to be humorous or are you trying to make a valid point? It seems to me that you are somewhere in between. If you are going to make an argument against "burnout" then you should make cogent points to support your argument. Or, if you are trying to provide a witty or satirical view then you should make it clear that you are doing so. Again, it seems that you are just making snide remarks that benefit no one, except "intellectuals" like yourself that can not play the game. You are obviously a talented writer, so why don't you focus your energies on the positive aspects of the game or the great players we see take the field.

Posted by MS on (October 29, 2009, 14:00 GMT)

Here in the US, baseball teams play a total of 162 games, not counting the championship rounds (which are also interminable), in a year. While there is clearly an off-season, it consists of players often traveling to the Caribbean to play "winter" baseball. When this is contrasted with the, aghast!, 150 odd days that a player may be subject to in international cricket each year, the overall fitness of the players must be brought into question and perhaps a system similar to baseball (ex. rotating bowlers, even batsmen) should be considered. The bottom line for me is not so much the amount of cricket that is on offer; rather, it is the willy nilly nature of setting up tournaments, series, etc. If those were somehow standardized, such that each team would play an X number of tests, Y number of ODIs, and Z number of T20s, then it would assist teams in planning and even avoid viewer fatigue which occurs when series are bunched together.

Posted by Ian Salomon on (October 29, 2009, 4:52 GMT)

Modern cricketers play, maybe, 10 tests and 15 ODIs in a year. That is a maximum of 65 days - in a whole year! Imagine the "burnout" that Fred Trueman et al, Compton, Hammond, Larwood etc. etc. must have played through ....... they played SIX DAYS PER WEEK for 5-6 months and then went on a winter tour. With the introduction of the John PLayer (40-over) League, it became seven days a week. They never complained of burnout - they realised how lucky they were to play a game (brilliantly) for a living. The current crop of "moaning minnies" make me sick!

Posted by Ian Salomon on (October 29, 2009, 4:52 GMT)

Modern cricketers play, maybe, 10 tests and 15 ODIs in a year. That is a maximum of 65 days - in a whole year! Imagine the "burnout" that Fred Trueman et al, Compton, Hammond, Larwood etc. etc. must have played through ....... they played SIX DAYS PER WEEK for 5-6 months and then went on a winter tour. With the introduction of the John PLayer (40-over) League, it became seven days a week. They never complained of burnout - they realised how lucky they were to play a game (brilliantly) for a living. The current crop of "moaning minnies" make me sick!

Posted by Andrew Hughes on (October 28, 2009, 13:53 GMT)

Thanks everyone who took the time to comment.

AA - I have to say that I am not in the least jaded by the amount of cricket played at the moment. I'm only sorry that I can't find coverage of the Zimbabwe Bangladesh series anywhere. I accept that this may be a minority opinion.

Gideon Haigh is indeed one of the finest and if I had any ambition to be a serious cricket writer, I would study his every word. His Cricinfo articles are always insightful and well-crafted and I'm looking forward to reading his book on this year's Ashes. If Cardus is Bradman in the list of all-time great cricket writers, then Haigh is Ricky Ponting - the contemporary best-placed to narrow, if not to entirely close the gap.

Posted by Asad's Ashes on (October 28, 2009, 11:57 GMT)

While I agree with the suggestion we would all be better off with rather fewer pronouncements from professional cricketers, I think Andrew Hughes' "healthy suspicion" of professional cricketers goes too far. I suggest he reads Gideon Haigh's typically masterful analysis of the issue on these pages. We are all jaded - not just the players. If, as he says, he admires Neville Cardus more than Don Bradman, then I reckon he should hang on every word Haigh writes who is the best in the business currently.

Posted by Mark on (October 28, 2009, 4:12 GMT)

Seriously, that comment about Mr T umpiring is one of the funniest things I've read in a long time

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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