Burnout October 28, 2009

The weariness of the long-distance spinner

 
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Hauritz: when a man’s gotta celebrate, a man’s gotta celebrate © Getty Images
 

Punter probably gets a bad press, but sometimes it seems that journalists only need to poke him with a stick and then press “Record”. This week the grumbler’s grumbler has been disgruntled over the late arrival in Vadodara of the Champions League Three: Brett Lee, Doug Bollinger and Nathan Hauritz. The trio were unable to prepare for Sunday’s game of cricket because they had been playing cricket, and apparently there is no worse preparation for a professional cricketer than to be playing cricket.

The Aussie captain was particularly annoyed because whilst they were away playing cricket, they were altogether unavailable for the tactical seminars conducted by Team Australia ahead of the first one-day international. Talk of these tactics intrigued me. Were they so complicated that they couldn’t be explained in an hour or two on the morning of the match? Does Brett Lee really need to attend a workshop on how to bowl at Sachin Tendulkar?

Probably not, I thought. But then I am not an initiate in the Byzantine complexities of the great game. All us plebs need to know is that these “tactics” exist and that they are so fiendishly difficult that they need several days to fully explain. Or perhaps the tactics are fairly simple but the cricketers are relatively dim. Maybe the days leading up to an international are spent in a classroom with a slack-jawed Lee staring uncomprehendingly at a whiteboard upon which General Ponting has drawn a picture of some stumps with the word “stumps” written underneath in large capital letters.

Then there was the stirring tale of Nathan Hauritz and his dash across India to answer his nation’s call. The headlines told it all. Words like, “weary”, “sleep-deprived” and “frenetic schedule” all featured prominently. A little further reading uncovered the details of Hauritz’s horror timetable, beginning after Friday night’s Champions League Final. Left dressing room at 1am. Caught flight at mid-day. Arrived 8:30pm on Saturday night, a mere 12 hours before the toss. Wait a minute, what was that first item again? Left dressing room at 1am?

“Becoming the inaugural champions, you still have to celebrate with your team-mates,” said Hauritz. Do you? When you have an important flight to catch the next day?

“It was tough”, he elaborated. Wouldn’t it have been a little less tough if he hadn’t stayed up till 1am celebrating? And is one-and-a-half games of cricket in 48 hours really such a problem? Does trundling in to send down a few offbreaks, then doing the same thing two days later really warrant such dramatic headlines?

Now I like Hauritz. I enjoyed watching him confound his critics during the Ashes. And he is not entirely to blame for how this “story” was written. Cricket has become a kind of celebrity circus, with its performers surrounded by agents busily spinning and journalists anxious for access, all of them peddling narcissistic claptrap about burnout, fatigue and the weariness of the long-distance spinner.

So in a spirit of philanthropy, I have decided to help out. I am setting up franchises of Hughes’ House of Snacks at airports around the world. Staffed by employees working 12-hour shifts on minimum wages, these outlets of enlightenment will specialise in early-morning coffee and delicious reality sandwiches for those who have recently spent a lot of time with their head in the clouds.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • NKI on October 31, 2009, 0:42 GMT

    David Hopps says "You either get team spirit or you don't." I like it! You either get team "spirit" or you don't.....gotta celebrate the win with a few of those. Explains the 1am departure.

  • johnny on October 30, 2009, 12:56 GMT

    Article is in bad taste about cricketers in general. So what if he is a spinner and had to bowl only 4 hours in the cl 20 game, he still has to go thorugh the team meetings, endless flights,being so far away from home. that too at a place like vadodara.Remember the game finishes only at 11:00 PM and he has left the dressing room by 1:00 AM. thats just 2 hours Mr Hughes. I agree he still gets paid a lot of money, But I would like to see you to go sit far away from everything you know and love and write this same piece and get paid a lot of money... Would you do it sir? day in and day out??

  • Nihit on October 30, 2009, 9:48 GMT

    ROFL ... Great article dude.. I cannot agree with u more that our dearest Punter do cribs a lot but I would definitely say arriving just 12 hours before an international game is never ideal.

  • Raghav on October 29, 2009, 12:18 GMT

    Awesome article .Loved the General Ponting bit.In part while i do agree with Sunil on the earlier comment , what i would be interested in knowing is that,wasnt Ponting already aware of Lee's participation in CLT20 and shouldnt he have taken into account the probability of NSW making it to the later stages of the tournament. With the amount of money being made by the players , while we can always debate the issue of burnout, i think its imperative that the players keep their priorities in place .

    P.S Just wonder if the title of the article's been inspired by the Iron Maiden number 'Loneliness of a long distance runner'.

  • skid on October 29, 2009, 9:57 GMT

    I agree with Praveen and not with simon goldmember, I was a pro athlete for 10 years and tho flying round the world, changing time zones and relentless training and tactical analysis gets tiresome, it beats the hell out of being a labourer... how many brickies get free physio, massage and half a hundred sycophants telling u ur great?

    Funny article, I know punter (I live in his home town) and it is very funny thinking of him at the whiteboard lol he would need a tutor to spell stumps lol

  • vgk on October 29, 2009, 9:36 GMT

    A question for the more informed. Where is the famous aussie rotation policy? is it just a way to show the door to non-performing superstars or is it a publicity stunt to keep the fans guessing?

  • daniel on October 29, 2009, 7:48 GMT

    Im so sick of hearing about "workloads" and all this claptrap, welcome to REAL LIFE guys, we work 9 -5 day afta day and we're all knackered too, get on with it!!

  • greg on October 29, 2009, 7:23 GMT

    The difference, Praveen, is that a top sportsman, especially in a sport like cricket, will really need to be at close to 100% performance every time, both to be worth their place in the team, and also to perform to a standard that spectators come to expect. The margins between being one of the best in the World and journeyman are incredibly fine, and most sports can be separated from other professions by the need to maintain BOTH peak mental and physical performance.

    But then i sense that your post might be a bit of an ironic joke, including as it does STUDENTS!!! :)

    Anyway this is just a general post against the naysayers on "burnout", rather than a comment on the specifics of players not treating their bodies professionally.

  • Sajith on October 29, 2009, 6:59 GMT

    Dear Andrew, finally an article that calls a spade a spade though in a delightful manner. Cricketers have a choice to play tournaments like the so-called Champions League organised by IPL. The lure of the lucre basically overpowers everything else and then suddenly we hear that players are breaking down, fatigue setting and the like. Playing two games of cricket in 48 hours surely can't be as taxing as playing two games of NBA level basketball or two premier league football games within the span of 3 days.

    Well written and well said.

  • Yuvraj Varma on October 29, 2009, 6:18 GMT

    A superbly written article. I quite agree with the unnecessary hue and cry over three players joining the team late. It wasn't as if these three players had reached at the time of toss. They had sufficient time to rest before the first ODI.

    And it beats me too as to how much time would tactical discussions take. On the contrary, any other captain would be delighted to have a couple of players having a headstart in familiarising with the local conditions. After yesterdays disappointing result for him, I'm sure Mr. Ponting would be thinking of more things to crib about.

  • NKI on October 31, 2009, 0:42 GMT

    David Hopps says "You either get team spirit or you don't." I like it! You either get team "spirit" or you don't.....gotta celebrate the win with a few of those. Explains the 1am departure.

  • johnny on October 30, 2009, 12:56 GMT

    Article is in bad taste about cricketers in general. So what if he is a spinner and had to bowl only 4 hours in the cl 20 game, he still has to go thorugh the team meetings, endless flights,being so far away from home. that too at a place like vadodara.Remember the game finishes only at 11:00 PM and he has left the dressing room by 1:00 AM. thats just 2 hours Mr Hughes. I agree he still gets paid a lot of money, But I would like to see you to go sit far away from everything you know and love and write this same piece and get paid a lot of money... Would you do it sir? day in and day out??

  • Nihit on October 30, 2009, 9:48 GMT

    ROFL ... Great article dude.. I cannot agree with u more that our dearest Punter do cribs a lot but I would definitely say arriving just 12 hours before an international game is never ideal.

  • Raghav on October 29, 2009, 12:18 GMT

    Awesome article .Loved the General Ponting bit.In part while i do agree with Sunil on the earlier comment , what i would be interested in knowing is that,wasnt Ponting already aware of Lee's participation in CLT20 and shouldnt he have taken into account the probability of NSW making it to the later stages of the tournament. With the amount of money being made by the players , while we can always debate the issue of burnout, i think its imperative that the players keep their priorities in place .

    P.S Just wonder if the title of the article's been inspired by the Iron Maiden number 'Loneliness of a long distance runner'.

  • skid on October 29, 2009, 9:57 GMT

    I agree with Praveen and not with simon goldmember, I was a pro athlete for 10 years and tho flying round the world, changing time zones and relentless training and tactical analysis gets tiresome, it beats the hell out of being a labourer... how many brickies get free physio, massage and half a hundred sycophants telling u ur great?

    Funny article, I know punter (I live in his home town) and it is very funny thinking of him at the whiteboard lol he would need a tutor to spell stumps lol

  • vgk on October 29, 2009, 9:36 GMT

    A question for the more informed. Where is the famous aussie rotation policy? is it just a way to show the door to non-performing superstars or is it a publicity stunt to keep the fans guessing?

  • daniel on October 29, 2009, 7:48 GMT

    Im so sick of hearing about "workloads" and all this claptrap, welcome to REAL LIFE guys, we work 9 -5 day afta day and we're all knackered too, get on with it!!

  • greg on October 29, 2009, 7:23 GMT

    The difference, Praveen, is that a top sportsman, especially in a sport like cricket, will really need to be at close to 100% performance every time, both to be worth their place in the team, and also to perform to a standard that spectators come to expect. The margins between being one of the best in the World and journeyman are incredibly fine, and most sports can be separated from other professions by the need to maintain BOTH peak mental and physical performance.

    But then i sense that your post might be a bit of an ironic joke, including as it does STUDENTS!!! :)

    Anyway this is just a general post against the naysayers on "burnout", rather than a comment on the specifics of players not treating their bodies professionally.

  • Sajith on October 29, 2009, 6:59 GMT

    Dear Andrew, finally an article that calls a spade a spade though in a delightful manner. Cricketers have a choice to play tournaments like the so-called Champions League organised by IPL. The lure of the lucre basically overpowers everything else and then suddenly we hear that players are breaking down, fatigue setting and the like. Playing two games of cricket in 48 hours surely can't be as taxing as playing two games of NBA level basketball or two premier league football games within the span of 3 days.

    Well written and well said.

  • Yuvraj Varma on October 29, 2009, 6:18 GMT

    A superbly written article. I quite agree with the unnecessary hue and cry over three players joining the team late. It wasn't as if these three players had reached at the time of toss. They had sufficient time to rest before the first ODI.

    And it beats me too as to how much time would tactical discussions take. On the contrary, any other captain would be delighted to have a couple of players having a headstart in familiarising with the local conditions. After yesterdays disappointing result for him, I'm sure Mr. Ponting would be thinking of more things to crib about.

  • eli on October 29, 2009, 5:04 GMT

    lol, u r da funiest guy on earth. i have been reading all ur articles and just love them. please continue writing so dat we can continue laughing. and ofcourse there are alwayz critics dere so ignore them. btw, simon, if u think gettin a job at cricinfo is so easy, y dont u get one....i am sure u wud luv it nd so wud i coz we luv doin anything in lyf related 2 cricket

  • heesamuddeen on October 29, 2009, 5:04 GMT

    I am just puzzled how does a 4 over spell can be stressful on the body.If so just imagine the muralidharans,junior nazirs,the bedis who use to bowl not less than 30-40 overs in a test match day and again come back and bowl nearly same number of overs the next day!We tend to forget that after all cricket is a game and playing a game always energizes your body irrespective of at what level you play.Ah there is one thing which we cant be sure is the impact of what one does inside the dressing room or outside the cricket ground!In every other job we have 20 days of normal or below normal work and just 2 or 3 days of so called extra work.Human mind is so cunning to project only those hard days.I believe cricketers too are humans!and certainly the writer too

  • MM on October 29, 2009, 4:44 GMT

    Somehow all these sacred "shields" are used when you do not perform and are looking for an excuse. The moment they turn in a half decent performance, then missing "tactical seminars" is forgotten and gems like "team work, conditioning, strategies etc are used to keep the gullible public interested. This is a media created circus, so you believe at your own peril.

  • Aditya on October 29, 2009, 2:42 GMT

    I'd like to make a point re: staying up till 0100 hrs. The CLT20 match got over by 2300, and the award ceremony got over by 2330. It takes around 30 mins or more from the stadium to the hotel using the bike - I stay near the hotel, so I know. A team bus with security will take more time for that distance. The guy must have got 30 minutes of celebration, approximately.

  • REDNECK on October 29, 2009, 0:58 GMT

    no brett lee probably doesnt need to attend a work shop on bowling to the indian batsmen but as the most experienced bowler in indian conditions he may be needed to conduct a workshop for the other less experienced bowlers!

  • Joe Baxter on October 29, 2009, 0:50 GMT

    Great blog. Hauritz must have been disappointed to miss out on Ponting in his professors outfit taking "How to Beat the Indians 101". The media's take on the NSW players' late arrival was a touch overdone and Hauritz bowled remarkably well considering he missed that all important team tactics meeting. However, I do think an injury-prone player such as Brett Lee should have considered sitting out one or two Champions League matches in light of the 7-match ODI series just around the corner. But people seem more inclined to blame the scheduling of the two events rather than the players' decision to put club ahead of country.

  • srb65 on October 28, 2009, 22:44 GMT

    In response to Praveen, yes we all work everyday, but most don't or couldn't work at the intensity that is required in international cricket. If, at your everyday job, you had to be absolutely the best performing person in your job or you got dropped (i.e. fired) in addition to traveling around world (read as jet lag, lack of sleep, never at home) while every single action you take at your job is captured on film, viewed in slow motion, analyzed and critiqued by fans and journalists who probably know a lot less about your job than you do and then blamed your company's failure on the slightest mistake you made, you might feel like you need a break once in a while. I think cricket is one of the most pressure packed sports in the world and anyone that thinks being an international cricketer is a cakewalk is deluding themselves.

  • Sanket Dalal on October 28, 2009, 21:16 GMT

    One of the funniest things I've read in a while! Great work Andrew.

    Your comments are right on the mark, both about Ponting and Hauritz. Come to think of it, I don't remember the last time Ponting did NOT complain about something before the start of a series.

    Also, I find it interesting that when Ponting didn't have time to discuss tactics with Hauritz, Lee, et al, Australia won the game by 4 runs. For the second ODI, when presumably Ponting had enough time to get everyone on the same page, they get blown out by 100 runs. Something doesn't quite add up here.

  • srinivas on October 28, 2009, 20:48 GMT

    well said Andrew but you will be well served if you would please say this mantra before writing another article to ward off unwelcome intrusions such as this Simon fellow over here. It goes like this

    Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

    Its very easy and you can and should repeat it as much as you would like. It can also be sung if you are a good or a decent or even a poor singer..

  • David Hopps on October 28, 2009, 18:28 GMT

    Do you have to celebrate after winning a competituion when you have a 1am flight the next day? Ehmm, yes you do. You either get team spirit or you don't.

  • Anupam on October 28, 2009, 17:55 GMT

    I am sorry to say, but this article is to harsh on Ricky and specially Hauritz. Who wouldn't want to celebrate when u win a hard fought tournament? He stayed only till 1 am... U should remember that at the end he is human. Secondly u miss the point here... The point is about how tournaments are scheduled. There should be some break b.w two tournaments rite? That's what happened with England when they had to travel a useless match to Ireland and couldn't celebrate Ashes fully. Probably once in a lifetime event. Third ofcourse cricketers are professional..but how demanding is a sport physically and emotionally, when u r away from your family most of the times...I can only guess....Remember the number of flights which these guys have to take ..Travelling so much itself is hectic... Poor Mosriques.... (I would have though looked forward to see what Ricky would have done had his club reached the finals of CL)

  • Andrew Hughes on October 28, 2009, 14:04 GMT

    Thanks everyone for your comments

    Simon - I'm not sure at what point I have criticised Ponting for his 'unimaginative' captaincy. If that was the impression I gave, then I can only apologise, for that was not my intention.

    Jealousy is an accusation often flung around and impossible to disprove, but for what it is worth, I can honestly say that I have never wanted to be a professional sportsman or indeed, sportswoman.

  • DJ on October 28, 2009, 13:51 GMT

    Simon,

    I think you've missed the point somewhat - it's not about the tactical preparation (or lack thereof) or the time this takes. The point being made is that going out on the sauce to celebrate one day's professional success (on a 'school night') in effect, means that we shouldn't have a whole lot of sympathy when he then has to rock up the day afterwards and play another game of cricket.

  • Simon Goldstone on October 28, 2009, 10:58 GMT

    An article that smacks of jelousy. You are not in the inner sanctum of the Australian team, nor do you understand the physical and mental demands of a professinal sportsperson. It's laughable that you dismiss the importance of tactics, yet criticise Ponting for the unimaginative way he captains the team! Well done for writing an article about nothing. How does one go getting a job at cricinfo?

  • Praveen on October 28, 2009, 9:28 GMT

    Couldn't agree more. What about all the carpenters, brick-layers, students, nurses, stockbrokers, doctors and other hard working professionals in the world? We work really hard, and the next day we get up and do it all again, 5-7 days per week all year long? We are sleep deprived every day.

    And yet playing a few games of cricket a week, travelling the world and earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in front of massive crowds is apparently 'burn out' Which life would you prefer?

  • Malik Nadeem Awan on October 28, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    he is a good off spinner but he needs to bowl doosra as well bcoz now a days it is difficult for a spinner to survive without variations. but overall he is bowling nicely. and i think he had learn the art of spin from the great pakistani spinner saqlain mushtaq also the inventor of the doosra. so he is good spinner but not the replacement of shane warne. in tests they need to find leggie

  • Sunil on October 28, 2009, 7:47 GMT

    Hahaha and even more ha . Superbly written and as beautifully aimed at the funny bone as ever ; especially the image of Ponting taking classes for Lee . On a more serious note , i believe the fuss in the NSW players case is more about the travel rather than the playing . It can't be all that easy to fly in to town , drive up to the hotel , lie down for 3 hours or so , get up and go to a stadium for practise followed by an international match . Besides , what happens if they miss team meetings is that their inputs are not available which is all the more important in the case of somebody like Lee . So , i don't entirely agree with the content of the article but the form of it agrees with me . hehe .

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  • Sunil on October 28, 2009, 7:47 GMT

    Hahaha and even more ha . Superbly written and as beautifully aimed at the funny bone as ever ; especially the image of Ponting taking classes for Lee . On a more serious note , i believe the fuss in the NSW players case is more about the travel rather than the playing . It can't be all that easy to fly in to town , drive up to the hotel , lie down for 3 hours or so , get up and go to a stadium for practise followed by an international match . Besides , what happens if they miss team meetings is that their inputs are not available which is all the more important in the case of somebody like Lee . So , i don't entirely agree with the content of the article but the form of it agrees with me . hehe .

  • Malik Nadeem Awan on October 28, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    he is a good off spinner but he needs to bowl doosra as well bcoz now a days it is difficult for a spinner to survive without variations. but overall he is bowling nicely. and i think he had learn the art of spin from the great pakistani spinner saqlain mushtaq also the inventor of the doosra. so he is good spinner but not the replacement of shane warne. in tests they need to find leggie

  • Praveen on October 28, 2009, 9:28 GMT

    Couldn't agree more. What about all the carpenters, brick-layers, students, nurses, stockbrokers, doctors and other hard working professionals in the world? We work really hard, and the next day we get up and do it all again, 5-7 days per week all year long? We are sleep deprived every day.

    And yet playing a few games of cricket a week, travelling the world and earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in front of massive crowds is apparently 'burn out' Which life would you prefer?

  • Simon Goldstone on October 28, 2009, 10:58 GMT

    An article that smacks of jelousy. You are not in the inner sanctum of the Australian team, nor do you understand the physical and mental demands of a professinal sportsperson. It's laughable that you dismiss the importance of tactics, yet criticise Ponting for the unimaginative way he captains the team! Well done for writing an article about nothing. How does one go getting a job at cricinfo?

  • DJ on October 28, 2009, 13:51 GMT

    Simon,

    I think you've missed the point somewhat - it's not about the tactical preparation (or lack thereof) or the time this takes. The point being made is that going out on the sauce to celebrate one day's professional success (on a 'school night') in effect, means that we shouldn't have a whole lot of sympathy when he then has to rock up the day afterwards and play another game of cricket.

  • Andrew Hughes on October 28, 2009, 14:04 GMT

    Thanks everyone for your comments

    Simon - I'm not sure at what point I have criticised Ponting for his 'unimaginative' captaincy. If that was the impression I gave, then I can only apologise, for that was not my intention.

    Jealousy is an accusation often flung around and impossible to disprove, but for what it is worth, I can honestly say that I have never wanted to be a professional sportsman or indeed, sportswoman.

  • Anupam on October 28, 2009, 17:55 GMT

    I am sorry to say, but this article is to harsh on Ricky and specially Hauritz. Who wouldn't want to celebrate when u win a hard fought tournament? He stayed only till 1 am... U should remember that at the end he is human. Secondly u miss the point here... The point is about how tournaments are scheduled. There should be some break b.w two tournaments rite? That's what happened with England when they had to travel a useless match to Ireland and couldn't celebrate Ashes fully. Probably once in a lifetime event. Third ofcourse cricketers are professional..but how demanding is a sport physically and emotionally, when u r away from your family most of the times...I can only guess....Remember the number of flights which these guys have to take ..Travelling so much itself is hectic... Poor Mosriques.... (I would have though looked forward to see what Ricky would have done had his club reached the finals of CL)

  • David Hopps on October 28, 2009, 18:28 GMT

    Do you have to celebrate after winning a competituion when you have a 1am flight the next day? Ehmm, yes you do. You either get team spirit or you don't.

  • srinivas on October 28, 2009, 20:48 GMT

    well said Andrew but you will be well served if you would please say this mantra before writing another article to ward off unwelcome intrusions such as this Simon fellow over here. It goes like this

    Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

    Its very easy and you can and should repeat it as much as you would like. It can also be sung if you are a good or a decent or even a poor singer..

  • Sanket Dalal on October 28, 2009, 21:16 GMT

    One of the funniest things I've read in a while! Great work Andrew.

    Your comments are right on the mark, both about Ponting and Hauritz. Come to think of it, I don't remember the last time Ponting did NOT complain about something before the start of a series.

    Also, I find it interesting that when Ponting didn't have time to discuss tactics with Hauritz, Lee, et al, Australia won the game by 4 runs. For the second ODI, when presumably Ponting had enough time to get everyone on the same page, they get blown out by 100 runs. Something doesn't quite add up here.