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England's quicks have been the most overworked in the past year, and they were given little respite at Trent Bridge when India were welcomed with a pitch that wouldn't have looked out of place in Nagpur or Rajkot. Simon Hughes, in the Telegraph, questions the quality of Test cricket on such decks and the ensuing impact on fast bowlers.
Neither of England's opening bowlers, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, will be fully fit for Lords. They cannot be. Anderson bowled 59 overs in this match and Broad 54. That is more than 300 deliveries per man. Each ball they charge in 20 yards, jump into their action and land at the crease, putting a force six times their body weight through their knees and ankles. You cannot recover from that in three days. Your body aches for a week after effort of this intensity. Never was it more obvious that bowlers are seen as cricket's expendable labourers.
In a piece for the Guardian's weekly segment The Spin, Andy Bull questions whether fast bowling in Test cricket is actually losing its pace. Bull cites a study of baseball pitchers conducted by Glenn Fleisig of the American Sports Medicine Institute, and the latter has suggested that fast bowlers might also be reaching their physical limit. The important question is whether the trend may be depriving fans of one of the most exciting elements of Test cricket.
That mindset has been passed down by coaches, who see the perfect action as being the one that bears the most repetition while minimising the risk of injury and maximising the degree of control. As Brearley says, Test cricket is poorer for it, stripped as it is of the physical threat to the batsman and robbed of one its most exciting elements. But bowlers have longer careers as a consequence. Fans and players love to argue about who was the fastest. That's a debate that can't be settled. But it is clear that you won't find many contenders in this day and age. We are in a time of tortoises, not hares. The perfectly fast action, like the perfect game of draughts, is a thing of the past, a target players have long since stopped pursuing.
A cricketer's life is rather coveted in the eyes of the general public. Success on the field leads to adoration, lucrative contracts, travel to exotic locations and much more. But Anand Vasu, in Wisden India, presents the other side of fame: A schedule is so busy the concept of home becomes twisted, a fact left-arm spinner Murali Kartik is quite familiar with, having spent less than a month there for five years straight.
"For the best part of the year my home in Delhi is unoccupied and locked up. You work hard, earn money and make a home for yourself, which is what everyone aspires to, but you don't have the luxury of enjoying it," says Kartik. When in England, he is well taken care of, a lovely residence his for the season, a top-of-the-line sponsored car his to drive, and yet it's just not the same. "There was a five-year period when I played the full season at home for Railways and away in England when I kept a record of how many nights I spent in my own bed each year. The scorecard was 22, 27, 23, 24 and 25 across those years. Can you imagine what it's like only being in your own home for less than a month in the whole year, spread out over three or four trips?" When you reconsider the fact that Kartik has not played for India in six years, you might get a sense of what life has become for the modern cricketer.