India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore October 8, 2010

Lessons to be learnt from scheduling - Ponting

ESPNcricinfo staff
22

Michael Hussey's comments on Thursday about being coerced into staying on for the final stages of the Champions League have been followed by Australia losing the services of Doug Bollinger, Hussey's Chennai Super Kings team-mate, for the second Test with an abdominal strain. In this case though, it is hard to blame the scheduling of the tournament, since it was the India-Australia Test series that was shoe-horned into the calendar at the last minute.

Ricky Ponting, who is set to play his 148th Test, is no fan of the itinerary, and echoed Hussey's words on the eve of the game. "It was definitely hard on Doug, and Mike Hussey, and even MS Dhoni for that matter," he said. "I think you could see from his [Dhoni's] performance in the last game that he'd been feeling the pinch a little bit as well. It definitely wasn't ideal preparation for those guys coming into a Test match but I know from the Australian players' side that they were doing everything in their power to try and arrive earlier. There are a lot of good lessons that can be learnt from the last week as far as our preparation goes, and probably even for the Indian players. All we can do is try and get our case across, and I know the individual players concerned have certainly done that."

If it is not the proliferation of Twenty20 tournaments that is causing players to break down, it is thoughtless scheduling. With the calendar so cramped and administrators keen to squeeze in as many games as possible, back-to-back Tests have become the norm rather than the exception. In subcontinental weather conditions, it takes a huge physical toll on the players.

"It is hard work for the bowlers, there is no doubt about that, when you have back-to-back games," Ponting said. "We have made sure we have looked after our guys as well as we possibly could. We had a travel day and an early start the day after the Test. The guys didn't do any bowling that day. Hilfenhaus, Johnson and Bollinger didn't do anything yesterday. Nathan Hauritz had a decent bowl yesterday. The quicks will do a little bit of bowling today but we'll make sure their recovery is as good as it can be going into the game tomorrow."

Dhoni was more sanguine about the situation. "We tried to make use of the three-day break in the best possible manner," he said. "The first day goes as a travelling day and you rest and recover after that. Yesterday, we had a long practice session. Now we had a slightly lighter session. Nowadays, we have a three-day break before every Test match so it is the same. It is very important to rest rather than practice. The body needs rest and it can help you more."

Nothing endures but change, said Heraclitus, and Dhoni's team have taken those words to heart over the last year or so. The Bangalore Test will be the 10th since the start of the last home season that India have entered with at least one change to their side. That they have won seven and lost only two of those games, despite the lack of continuity, is testament to the spine of a team blessed with talent and experience.

After a high-scoring draw in Ahmedabad last year against Sri Lanka, Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra were dropped, with Sreesanth and Pragyan Ojha coming in for Kanpur. By the time the team got to Mumbai for the final Test, Gautam Gambhir had dropped out to attend his sister's wedding, leaving Murali Vijay to take his place.

Early in the new year, both Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh missed the Chittagong Test through injury, while Mishra came back for Ojha. VVS Laxman and Sreesanth hobbled out for the Dhaka Test, while a broken jaw ruled Rahul Dravid out of the subsequent South Africa series.

Laxman and Yuvraj Singh also missed the first Test of that series, where Wriddhiman Saha and S Badrinath made their debuts. Laxman's return in Kolkata was one of the catalysts for a series-levelling win. By the time the team got to Galle in July, Zaheer Khan was on the treatment table, giving Abhimanyu Mithun a chance to make his debut. At the SSC a week later, it was Suresh Raina that got his first cap for the indisposed Yuvraj, while Gambhir's injury gave Vijay another chance.

With Harbhajan missing the final game at the P Sara Oval, it was left to Mishra and Ojha to shoulder the spin burden, and Laxman, dodgy back and all, to lead the successful final-day run-chase. Zaheer's return to the fray in Mohali meant another change, and the theme continues in Bangalore with the enforced absences of Gambhir and Ishant.

The last three years have been memorable ones for Test cricket, with several games attaining classic status. South Africa chased down over 400 in Perth, England's last-wicket saved Tests in Cardiff and Centurion, while India's bowlers just about prevailed despite Hashim Amla's brilliance in Kolkata. Mohali was the last in a welcome line of games that have mocked at the perception of Test cricket being boring, but as both teams in this series are finding out, the entertainment comes at a cost.

Brett Lee, Andrew Flintoff and Shane Bond have already gone, while Shoaib Akhtar struggles to wheeze his way through a four-over spell. From the days of Demon Spofforth, fast bowlers have been an integral part of Test cricket's narrative. If those that run the game aren't more sensible with the scheduling though, they could soon be pushed to the fringes, and even the 70-odd Tests that Lee and Flintoff played before their bodies gave way will be a distant dream.

Michael Clarke spoke recently of how each individual needed to assess his priorities. The first men to look in the mirror, though, should be the administrators, who speak of the sanctity of Test cricket and then do everything in their power to undermine its 21st century renaissance.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dhoni_fan_from_a_dada_era on October 11, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    rather than blaming the CLT20, I would blame this push-in series between Ind & Aus. I mean why suddenly we are having this series all of a sudden! and if we are having, why play those useless ODI series play another test and make it a proper one.

    One answer is there, we are playing this so that India has a chance to hang on to its numero uno status for some more time. but the cost and benefit doesn't match up!

  • Sameer-hbk on October 10, 2010, 13:56 GMT

    Fact remains that no one is forcing Mike Hussey or Dhoni or anyone to play IPL or any T20 games. they want the cash so they go there. If Hussy or Dhoni wanted to really prepare for national duty and test match cricket maybe they should have opted out... But that wud have cos them big money the franchise owners pay.

    That put aside the way things are arranged needs to change no doubt. 2 test series shud be banned by ICC. Permit only test series with 3 or more games. What is the use of the 3 odi series between india and aus when u cud have had another awesome test match... other than selling tickets

  • on October 10, 2010, 9:00 GMT

    @ArdentCritic the reson Aus are resting players for this series is it test our bench strength coming into a world cup, as we have limited one day games before then and no domestic 50over competition, and also to give our fringe players expirience on the sub-continent. This is why Australia has won the last 3 world cups and 2 champions trophies

  • CricketSense on October 9, 2010, 22:04 GMT

    All this talk about scheduling of games is just nonsense. Should the scheduling be for the convenience of a selected few individuals? Why should the same individual players play in every game? Let others rotting in the sidelines also get opportunities. Let every country expand their bench strength and rotate the players for a given match. Cricket and fans need to see participation more players so that competitiveness would also improve.

  • on October 9, 2010, 20:32 GMT

    What `Agathian` said was right, why does one have to worry about the tight schedules, instead keep a team parallel to the one playing. Let the players be rotated (also some more guys gets paid) and the fans enjoy cricket round the year.... Rajeev Jose

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on October 9, 2010, 17:06 GMT

    The scheduling is nonsense. Players arriving in the country 2 days before a major Test series is bonkers. The ICC need to work out a proper window for T20. And that doesnt mean endless games to kill the golden goose.

  • popcorn on October 9, 2010, 12:06 GMT

    Twenty20 has already done great harm to Test Cricket and will continue to do so, unless the Cricket Bpoards insist on ICC and India - that money is not everything. Like Ricky Ponting, Michael Ckarke and Mitchell Johnson have declined to play in the IPL. Dougie's fitness and Hussey's short preparation hurt Australia in the Mohali Test.

  • on October 9, 2010, 8:45 GMT

    @ Runster and drhawk

    Ricky Ponting has already quit from T20.What Ponting is lamenting is the fact that there is no proper window for such tournaments and that the people who play are humans and deserve to be treated that way,unlike machines who can play all day long. I hope I have made my point.

  • on October 9, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    Actually the ICC needs to take Ponting seriously here- Have a fixed time period wherein the IPL and the CLT20 can occur. This window is essential as we shall see the rise of these tournaments in future and this could lead to devastation as far as Tests are concerned.

  • PRasHanT_PoL on October 9, 2010, 4:06 GMT

    Cameron White replace M North.....

  • Dhoni_fan_from_a_dada_era on October 11, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    rather than blaming the CLT20, I would blame this push-in series between Ind & Aus. I mean why suddenly we are having this series all of a sudden! and if we are having, why play those useless ODI series play another test and make it a proper one.

    One answer is there, we are playing this so that India has a chance to hang on to its numero uno status for some more time. but the cost and benefit doesn't match up!

  • Sameer-hbk on October 10, 2010, 13:56 GMT

    Fact remains that no one is forcing Mike Hussey or Dhoni or anyone to play IPL or any T20 games. they want the cash so they go there. If Hussy or Dhoni wanted to really prepare for national duty and test match cricket maybe they should have opted out... But that wud have cos them big money the franchise owners pay.

    That put aside the way things are arranged needs to change no doubt. 2 test series shud be banned by ICC. Permit only test series with 3 or more games. What is the use of the 3 odi series between india and aus when u cud have had another awesome test match... other than selling tickets

  • on October 10, 2010, 9:00 GMT

    @ArdentCritic the reson Aus are resting players for this series is it test our bench strength coming into a world cup, as we have limited one day games before then and no domestic 50over competition, and also to give our fringe players expirience on the sub-continent. This is why Australia has won the last 3 world cups and 2 champions trophies

  • CricketSense on October 9, 2010, 22:04 GMT

    All this talk about scheduling of games is just nonsense. Should the scheduling be for the convenience of a selected few individuals? Why should the same individual players play in every game? Let others rotting in the sidelines also get opportunities. Let every country expand their bench strength and rotate the players for a given match. Cricket and fans need to see participation more players so that competitiveness would also improve.

  • on October 9, 2010, 20:32 GMT

    What `Agathian` said was right, why does one have to worry about the tight schedules, instead keep a team parallel to the one playing. Let the players be rotated (also some more guys gets paid) and the fans enjoy cricket round the year.... Rajeev Jose

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on October 9, 2010, 17:06 GMT

    The scheduling is nonsense. Players arriving in the country 2 days before a major Test series is bonkers. The ICC need to work out a proper window for T20. And that doesnt mean endless games to kill the golden goose.

  • popcorn on October 9, 2010, 12:06 GMT

    Twenty20 has already done great harm to Test Cricket and will continue to do so, unless the Cricket Bpoards insist on ICC and India - that money is not everything. Like Ricky Ponting, Michael Ckarke and Mitchell Johnson have declined to play in the IPL. Dougie's fitness and Hussey's short preparation hurt Australia in the Mohali Test.

  • on October 9, 2010, 8:45 GMT

    @ Runster and drhawk

    Ricky Ponting has already quit from T20.What Ponting is lamenting is the fact that there is no proper window for such tournaments and that the people who play are humans and deserve to be treated that way,unlike machines who can play all day long. I hope I have made my point.

  • on October 9, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    Actually the ICC needs to take Ponting seriously here- Have a fixed time period wherein the IPL and the CLT20 can occur. This window is essential as we shall see the rise of these tournaments in future and this could lead to devastation as far as Tests are concerned.

  • PRasHanT_PoL on October 9, 2010, 4:06 GMT

    Cameron White replace M North.....

  • drhawk on October 9, 2010, 0:20 GMT

    Perhaps Mr. Ponting should consider retiring if he cannot handle the rigors of modern day cricket. A man has to accept his age at some point.

  • Runster1 on October 8, 2010, 23:58 GMT

    Ponting complains on CLT20 cos he cant play T20 cricket. And we havent actually heard from dougy bollinger if he feels that way at all: that the champions league caused his injury. Michael Clarke complains on all T20 tournaments cos HE CANT PLAY T20!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • getgopi on October 8, 2010, 20:48 GMT

    Its high time Cricinfo started to track stats for injury averages, "struck down" rates and time to recovery.

    Commentator: "Well, if history is any indicator, he should..go..down..just about now. There! He just strained his caboose. What did I tell you?"

  • on October 8, 2010, 18:34 GMT

    "The first men to look in the mirror, though, should be the administrators, who speak of the sanctity of Test cricket and then do everything in their power to undermine its 21st century renaissance..

    "So true.. so true this line is....

  • agathian on October 8, 2010, 17:38 GMT

    I think we should have a rotational system wherein at least 50% of the players are swapped from one series to another or even between each match.. There are a billion people in India.. Can we not select and maintain like 30 prime players? Australian bench strength is so strong, it is ridiculous that Ponting is even complaining... I agree with other commenters here - If Hussey didnt want to play in CLT20 he should have made himself unavailable and forfeited his paycheck from CSK. He is just looking for a free-pass...

  • howizzat on October 8, 2010, 17:26 GMT

    Is Punter blaming it on CLT20 for losing players or he feels the ongoing series is ill-timed? Or is he finding an excuse for the loss. No Ponting You and your team is on the decline. Except the 2 all your players had enough rest before coming here. I am sure you will sing a different tunes if you win in Bengaluru.

  • manasvi_lingam on October 8, 2010, 17:25 GMT

    For such an important series as Ind vs Aus it should have been planned in a much better way.

  • ArdentCritic on October 8, 2010, 16:59 GMT

    @"Laxman wouldnot be allowed a runner" - I guess that is fair of Ponting. On a related matter I and every body cricket lover should urge BCCI to compensate the Australian Cricket Board Only a fraction of what they committed to them. Frankly I am sick of they blah blah about their competetion for Ashes w/England and as a consequences either do not take competetion with India seriously (All top Ozs players instructed to rest for 1Day series against India) or play only fill-in-gap matches with India. Whom do they think they are - Not even ranked 3rd or 4th? We should strike the iron where it hot. Take away their renumeration. Period. Let tehm enjoy little urn full of ashes. And please stop wasting money for all the top security arrangements for worthless people. Reponse welcome!!!

  • lakshya1 on October 8, 2010, 16:27 GMT

    @sivar 1982...friend, please read it carefully...ponting is crying about physical stress on guys like dougie, hussey, dhoni. he needs to understand that no body forced the players to go for CT20 or IPL. if dougie, hussey or MSD were complaining then one would understand that it could be a fatigue factor. this is nothing new from ponting, as he has always been critical of these leagues. he does not have to be critical of MSD's performance in the first test. he is trying to be mean here. why to blow things out of proportion if you are not part of it.

  • AsherCA on October 8, 2010, 15:17 GMT

    Cricinfo reporters should stop whining on behalf of lazy / mediocre cricketers.

    I do not know of anyone putting a gun on a player's head & asking him to play. Players are making themselves available for selection, thereby indicating their ability to deliver.

    If a player is unfit OR feels he requires time with his family OR simply a vacation, nobody stops him from taking time off.

    The board picks a replacement, the franchisees pay someone else & the show goes on.

    Hussey & Bollinger & Dhoni had the option of not making themselves available for the IPL Auction, CSK would have paid someone else to perform - they offered their services to CSK for money.

    Ponting had the option of requesting Cricket Australia to refuse NOC to Australian Cricketers for IPL which he chose not to use - why whining about now ?

    Normal human beings do not tell their employers to close business just because they want a holiday.

    IPL sponsors are advised not to bid for Aussie cry babies.

  • sivar_1982 on October 8, 2010, 15:06 GMT

    Its about the scheduling that was covered here and not that Ponting pointing out. Laxman batted in 2 tests main Thanks to Sanga and Ponting and dont forget that.. Otherwise, India would have both the tests.

    I dont know how Indian Players are allowed to get that benefits all the time in the world while other teams find Replacement.

  • lakshya1 on October 8, 2010, 13:20 GMT

    aussie players are just envy of hussey and dougie for their participation in CT20. I understand it is physically difficult, but that is how it is now a days. you cannot earn hundreds of thousands of dollars without putting some hard work. ponting tends to complain, criticize these t20 leagues all the time. He himself has quit t20 and thats why he thinks he has full license to blow things out of proportion. poor punter, stop crying as you are getting old and are out of form - may be it is difficult for you, but stop pointing fingers at others....poor old punter!!!!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • lakshya1 on October 8, 2010, 13:20 GMT

    aussie players are just envy of hussey and dougie for their participation in CT20. I understand it is physically difficult, but that is how it is now a days. you cannot earn hundreds of thousands of dollars without putting some hard work. ponting tends to complain, criticize these t20 leagues all the time. He himself has quit t20 and thats why he thinks he has full license to blow things out of proportion. poor punter, stop crying as you are getting old and are out of form - may be it is difficult for you, but stop pointing fingers at others....poor old punter!!!!

  • sivar_1982 on October 8, 2010, 15:06 GMT

    Its about the scheduling that was covered here and not that Ponting pointing out. Laxman batted in 2 tests main Thanks to Sanga and Ponting and dont forget that.. Otherwise, India would have both the tests.

    I dont know how Indian Players are allowed to get that benefits all the time in the world while other teams find Replacement.

  • AsherCA on October 8, 2010, 15:17 GMT

    Cricinfo reporters should stop whining on behalf of lazy / mediocre cricketers.

    I do not know of anyone putting a gun on a player's head & asking him to play. Players are making themselves available for selection, thereby indicating their ability to deliver.

    If a player is unfit OR feels he requires time with his family OR simply a vacation, nobody stops him from taking time off.

    The board picks a replacement, the franchisees pay someone else & the show goes on.

    Hussey & Bollinger & Dhoni had the option of not making themselves available for the IPL Auction, CSK would have paid someone else to perform - they offered their services to CSK for money.

    Ponting had the option of requesting Cricket Australia to refuse NOC to Australian Cricketers for IPL which he chose not to use - why whining about now ?

    Normal human beings do not tell their employers to close business just because they want a holiday.

    IPL sponsors are advised not to bid for Aussie cry babies.

  • lakshya1 on October 8, 2010, 16:27 GMT

    @sivar 1982...friend, please read it carefully...ponting is crying about physical stress on guys like dougie, hussey, dhoni. he needs to understand that no body forced the players to go for CT20 or IPL. if dougie, hussey or MSD were complaining then one would understand that it could be a fatigue factor. this is nothing new from ponting, as he has always been critical of these leagues. he does not have to be critical of MSD's performance in the first test. he is trying to be mean here. why to blow things out of proportion if you are not part of it.

  • ArdentCritic on October 8, 2010, 16:59 GMT

    @"Laxman wouldnot be allowed a runner" - I guess that is fair of Ponting. On a related matter I and every body cricket lover should urge BCCI to compensate the Australian Cricket Board Only a fraction of what they committed to them. Frankly I am sick of they blah blah about their competetion for Ashes w/England and as a consequences either do not take competetion with India seriously (All top Ozs players instructed to rest for 1Day series against India) or play only fill-in-gap matches with India. Whom do they think they are - Not even ranked 3rd or 4th? We should strike the iron where it hot. Take away their renumeration. Period. Let tehm enjoy little urn full of ashes. And please stop wasting money for all the top security arrangements for worthless people. Reponse welcome!!!

  • manasvi_lingam on October 8, 2010, 17:25 GMT

    For such an important series as Ind vs Aus it should have been planned in a much better way.

  • howizzat on October 8, 2010, 17:26 GMT

    Is Punter blaming it on CLT20 for losing players or he feels the ongoing series is ill-timed? Or is he finding an excuse for the loss. No Ponting You and your team is on the decline. Except the 2 all your players had enough rest before coming here. I am sure you will sing a different tunes if you win in Bengaluru.

  • agathian on October 8, 2010, 17:38 GMT

    I think we should have a rotational system wherein at least 50% of the players are swapped from one series to another or even between each match.. There are a billion people in India.. Can we not select and maintain like 30 prime players? Australian bench strength is so strong, it is ridiculous that Ponting is even complaining... I agree with other commenters here - If Hussey didnt want to play in CLT20 he should have made himself unavailable and forfeited his paycheck from CSK. He is just looking for a free-pass...

  • on October 8, 2010, 18:34 GMT

    "The first men to look in the mirror, though, should be the administrators, who speak of the sanctity of Test cricket and then do everything in their power to undermine its 21st century renaissance..

    "So true.. so true this line is....

  • getgopi on October 8, 2010, 20:48 GMT

    Its high time Cricinfo started to track stats for injury averages, "struck down" rates and time to recovery.

    Commentator: "Well, if history is any indicator, he should..go..down..just about now. There! He just strained his caboose. What did I tell you?"