August 19, 2010

Too much or too badly scheduled?

The Indians don't play more than other top cricketers around the world; it's just that their calendar is more poorly structured
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If you went strictly by record, the Indian team so far has had nothing official to say about the number of matches they play in a year, the importance and context of those matches and the toll the games take on players.

If you went by recent hearsay, then the team, or rather the senior management group, ideally including the captain, the coach, the manager and senior players, have sent off an email to the BCCI protesting "inconsequential" matches and asking for the schedule to be reworked. The BCCI claims it has received no such email.

Setting aside the Case of the Invisible Email and going by numbers alone, an excess of cricket cannot be an Indian grouse. In the last 12 months the Indians have not played more cricket than anyone else; their leading stars have, in fact, played fewer games than the frontline Australians.

A look at the combined Test, ODI, Twenty20 international, IPL and Champions League Twenty20 numbers reveals that, on sheer quantity, Australia's Shane Watson topped the table with 111 days of cricket, and Michael Hussey was just behind at 105. Even pace bowler Mitchell Johnson squeezed in 95 days on the job, just ahead of India's multi-tasking captain MS Dhoni, who on Monday was involved in his 94th day of cricket in the last 12 months.

Most days of cricket in the last year
Player Tests ODIs T20Is IPL matches CLT20 matches Total days played
Shane Watson 11 37 13 6 0 111
Michael Hussey 11 38 9 3 0 105
Mitchell Johnson 11 27 13 0 0 95
MS Dhoni 9 29 7 13 0 94
Michael Clarke 11 22 15 0 0 92
Ricky Ponting 11 36 0 0 0 91
Graeme Swann 11 24 11 0 0 90
Virender Sehwag 10 20 2 14 3 89
Paul Collingwood 9 24 11 8 0 88
Kumar Sangakkara 8 22 12 13 0 87
Tillakaratne Dilshan 8 25 12 6 4 87
Mahela Jayawardene 8 19 12 13 2 86
Harbhajan Singh 8 23 5 15 0 83
Sachin Tendulkar 10 17 0 15 0 82
Jacques Kallis 9 12 7 16 2 82
Gautam Gambhir 7 22 6 11 4 78
AB de Villiers 9 16 9 7 0 77
Suresh Raina 2 35 9 16 0 70
Graeme Smith 9 13 9 2 0 69
Yuvraj Singh 6 15 7 14 0 66
Stats from 16 Aug 2009 to 16 Aug 2010. All Tests taken to be five days long
Save for Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, both in the 60s, the other Indians (apart from those in the table above) come at a safe distance: Pragyan Ojha 56, Amit Mishra 41, Praveen Kumar 35.

Dhoni's tally is not even the most cricket played by an Indian in a year. Way back in the calendar year 2002, as India readied to launch its unexpected run to the World Cup final, their captain, Sourav Ganguly, played 106 days of cricket and Rahul Dravid 102, which included keeping wicket in ODIs. All this without 14 IPL matches and attendant pay cheques.

Even so, Ganguly's was not the record for most days of cricket played by anyone. That still belongs to Syed Kirmani's 107 days in 1983.

It can be said that the last 12 months of India's cricket have certainly been high-profile, high-attention and high-intensity. Issues like hectic travel schedules, sapping weather, the IPL's playing and party schedule, could count as subjective factors that may strengthen 2010 India's invisible email complaint.

Yet these identical factors apply to the Sri Lankans as well as other overseas players who dive into the IPL with the enthusiasm of infants sighting lollies. Sangakkara's 87 and Jayawardene's 86 match days in the last 12 months include 13 each in the IPL. Among the leading overseas players, Jacques Kallis played 16 IPL days (the same number as the much younger Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Pragyan Ojha) and two Champions League matches in his 82 days of cricket.

The only singular element that the Indians can claim as their own is, of course, the weight of public expectation and constant media scrutiny. But given that they are among the highest-earning cricketers in the world, these can well be considered the taxes of their celebrityhood. Much like the demand made by the market, with agents, associates, friends and everyone wanting a piece of what should ideally be their "downtime". Then, as now, it is the player who must find a way to cope.

The Indians, it can be argued, are as badly served by too much cricket as they are by the abysmal planning of their calendar. Even though the leading Australians may have a larger workload than the average Indian star, the Aussies are regularly given larger chunks of time off, and a more carefully calibrated off season, thereby giving them the opportunity to store enough up in their tanks to see them through a long, hard season.

Australia finished an exhausting 2009-10 season on March 31, 2010 and the next time they played as a team, it was on May 2, in the World Twenty20. In the interim Watson played six IPL matches and Hussey three. The World Twenty20 finished on May 16 and after that the Aussies were sighted on the field on June 17, for an ODI versus Ireland. So between April 1 and June 17, all the cricket the Australians were involved in was in a two-week series in the shortest format of the game, where they made the final.

India's last 2009-10 fixture was an ODI against South Africa on February 27. It was swiftly followed by the IPL (March 12 to April 25), which dovetailed into the May 1 start of the World Twenty20, which for India ended on May 11.

Then the pace of the game changed just a little. Dhoni, Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer, Gautam Gambhir, and Ashish Nehra were rested for just under a month, while Virender Sehwag was recovering from injury. In the meantime Suresh Raina led the Indians to Zimbabwe for six matches (four ODIs and two Twenty20s) from May 28 to June 13.

The main squad gathered for the next big event, the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, June 16-24, during which Zaheer sustained a shoulder injury that led to him missing out on the Tests against Sri Lanka. The Tests only began on July 18, and Gambhir returned home wounded after the first. The limited-overs specialists only came into action on August 10, after a break of over a month.

In this whirlabout, the man who has played the most non-stop cricket in the last six months is actually Raina, who (the team's got fingers crossed) is still standing.

India's most serious concern now, though, rests on the physical condition of Dhoni, whose right hand with its bent finger reflects the pressure he has absorbed in the last 12 months. Those months for him have included an ascent to the No. 1 Test ranking, two average ICC events, (the Champions Trophy and the World Twenty20), a win-loss record of 15-12 in 29 ODIs and 3-4 in seven Twenty20s, and a very successful IPL. As a cricketer who has mastered switching himself on and off during matches as captain and keeper, Dhoni will need to find it for his match schedule in the next six months too.

The Case of the Invisible Email seems proof enough that any direct approaches the team may have made to the BCCI about the future course of their cricket did not really work. Last Saturday a top source/key member (thus described and quoted in two national newspapers) of the Indian team said, "The worst fear is as of now due to excess of cricket, [that] we will not be able to field the best XI in South Africa and during the World Cup."

It is possible that this news about a letter of complaint was meant to be a trial balloon from the team, a way to knock on the BCCI's door, giving a new meaning to the phrase "via media". Until now the team management has very pointedly kept all media at an arm's length, either due to BCCI gags or personal indifference, so this is quite a radical step.

It is probably because the next six months include two big-ticket events that will put Dhoni's India under their most extreme examination: the tour to South Africa and the World Cup, at home.

All they have left now until the World Cup are about 15 ODIs (two, perhaps three, more in Sri Lanka, three against Australia, and five each against New Zealand and South Africa).

All they have left until the tour of South Africa are five Tests at home (two against Australia and three against New Zealand). Exhausting or not, meaningless or meaningful, these are the only opportunities the Indians will have.

There is, of course, the minor matter of the mega-volume Champions League Twenty20, which will feature nine Indians who are in and around the ODI team at the moment - Dhoni, Raina, Tendulkar, Zaheer, Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun and Virat Kohli, in action from September 10 to 26.

Rather than have a carefully planned break and a thought-through campaign calendar, India must now move from event to event using band-aid, glue and hope.

With inputs from Madhusudan Ramakrishnan. Sharda Ugra is senior editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • KAIRAVA on August 22, 2010, 1:54 GMT

    @ vinsho23: Regarding the total duration India's tour of SL, I think you got it wrong. For the current tour, Indians arrived in SL only on July 11 and had played a tour match against SL Board President's XI from July 13-15. They will be in SL till the Aug 28 final (god willing). So that would make their tour duration of 45 days...& not the 90 days that you have mentioned. Adding the 3 days of tour match to the 5 ODI's & 3 test matches, the total no. of playing days would be 23. I think you have also taken into account the 4 matches played by India during the earlier ASIA cup. That tournament lasted 10 days from Jun 15 to June 24 after which the Indians left for home & had taken a 18 day break till the current tour....!!!

  • Nampally on August 21, 2010, 23:12 GMT

    Besides the number of days played in a year, the environmental condition matter more. Indians play many matches in hot & humid conditions in India & SL. The ground surface is generally very hard under foot which is most damaging to the muscles. Consider the British condition where the grounds are relatively soft and friendly to the muscles and temperatures are low & comfortable. Playing in British conditions is far more congenial than playing in the Indian conditions. This is more important than the number of days played. The second factor is how closely the games are scheduled. You rightly say the schedules are bit shoddy. Third factor is the fitness (Physical & mental) of the individuals themselves.Dhoni played most of his days under far greater pressure on less body friendly ground surfaces than shane Watson did. It is like comparing oranges to apples. Yes we need to playing on different surfaces rather than those in Indian sub continent to make the players less injury prone.

  • jay57870 on August 21, 2010, 15:21 GMT

    Injuries are also a big issue: lacerations, muscle strains, concussions, fractures, etc. range in severity from cuts & bruises to surgeries & trauma. Still, it's amazing to see the players' resilience & endurance in overcoming adversity. Modern sports-medicine & strength-and-conditioning regimens, superior protective equipment & modern playing/training facilities help to alleviate the problem. Also important is the 3-4 month post-season break: it allows time for rehab, to relax with family & friends, and replenish their energy. Some undergo medical treatment. Many work out and practice to hone their skills and to build up strength & stamina for the next season. There is a good balance between play and rest. The final point: Elite NHL players have amazing staying power and longevity. Like Sachin. The Wings have at least 10 Hall of Famers who've played into their 40s with careers spanning 20+ years. They offer a benchmark of excellence worthy of emulation. Cricket can learn from hockey.

  • jay57870 on August 21, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    Sharda, I'm glad you included 'Mileage in other sports' as benchmarks. There's one more professional sport I'd like to add: Ice hockey. Besides NBA, MLB and NFL, the NHL (National Hockey League) is widely followed in North America. There are 30 franchises with 24 in the U.S. and 6 in Canada, with many elite players from Europe. The NHL schedule is physically and mentally very taxing: (1) Training camp and pre-season of 9 games in September; (2) Regular season of 82 home-and-away games, October to early-April; and (3) Playoffs for top 16 teams with 4 elimination rounds over 7-8 weeks, which can mean over 20 games for the two finalists. For example, the Detroit Red Wings (widely considered the best NHL franchise) played a total of 114 games in the 2008-09 season, a game in effect every 2-3 days. Furthermore, the season grinds through the harsh winter months with grueling air travel to far-flung cities across the vast expanse of the two countries. Fatigue therefore is a big issue.

  • Realhotshady on August 21, 2010, 3:23 GMT

    India are just complaining about the number of matches unnecessarily...I say they are playing less cricket....At this level they should play more...I mean to say more number of tests....

  • jigish.patel on August 20, 2010, 20:19 GMT

    @AsherCA - There's a difference between sitting at your desk for 250 days and play international level cricket in the field. Play one full 40-50 over game and you'll know what it is like.

    Regarding comparison with NBA, those games are 60 mins of playtime - nowhere near the amount of effort needed for an ODI or a test match. Tennis matches usually last 3 hours at most.

  • Irarum on August 20, 2010, 18:52 GMT

    Some one mentioned that Dhoni should keep his no.1 ranking..some bull*. Its not about Dhoni and his multi-million deal for ads. Its about team India. Why can't he ask Karthik to keep wickets in ODI or Test. or At least when he is injured severely. Agreed, Dravid did the same but not when he was injured and handling ball like it is 150C hot iron ball. Either you have rotation or reduce no.of interests or open calendar. Since Dhoni is regular he is complaining. Imagine Yuvi scoring 25 centuries and 40 odd 50s already. It would have been much worse. Its not just IPL. Its the amount of time spent in Ads. Indiscipline towards their profession. All this in the midst of MPs getting hike in Salaries, Tennis starts not being paid over 2 yrs, Hockey coaches harassing women players. Disgusting fate of a diverse country. God can only save this country. When every sport is controlled by Government, why not cricket? Indian govt, Please corrupt this sport and make players buy their own thigh pads.

  • vinsho23 on August 20, 2010, 15:43 GMT

    I totally agree with Sharda is saying, but the most important thing that is missing from her analysis, is the amount played by the indian team. Players played less amount of days as they were injured or having a break because of a long season. Can you please make an analysis of the number of playing days by the team wise instead of player wise that will give you an insight into the complaints of the players.

    And also can you please make another analysis of the amount of time players spending on the tours, as Indian team is in SriLanka for like 3 months and will be playing only 8 ODIs and 3 Tests. This counts into only 23 days of cricket but it is taking 90 days on the tour. Can you justify this based on your current analysis.

  • RogerC on August 20, 2010, 11:06 GMT

    You could have also factored the workload of the player into consideration. Hussey is not a bowler, Watson is a 3rd change bowler who is used as a surprise weapon. Dhoni is a wicket keeper who needs to sit down and stand up for each delivery. On top of that, he needs to perform his duties as a captain and keep his no. 1 ranking as a top order batsman. Think about the planning sessions, daily press briefings, interviews etc, that a captain has to go through. Indian selectors are mad to tax one guy with so much workload in Tests, ODI, T20 and IPL.

  • AsherCA on August 20, 2010, 9:43 GMT

    Dhoni & his team's demands on BCCI are totally unjustified.

    People in most other professions work a little over 250 days a month. Dhoni himself - the most active cricketer has worked only 94 !

    If they need time for family, they have the option of posing in fewer ads, OR like Sachin - taking some time off from Intl. Cricket.

    However I suspect -

    Fewer ad's means less money & therefore should not be considered. Taking time off from matches will allow BCCI to select a replacement who might deliver, making it difficult for the person taking time off to come back into the side on merit. That option therefore is risky & should be avoided.

    Players therefore are trying to gang-up & demand that BCCI reduces the # of matches.

  • KAIRAVA on August 22, 2010, 1:54 GMT

    @ vinsho23: Regarding the total duration India's tour of SL, I think you got it wrong. For the current tour, Indians arrived in SL only on July 11 and had played a tour match against SL Board President's XI from July 13-15. They will be in SL till the Aug 28 final (god willing). So that would make their tour duration of 45 days...& not the 90 days that you have mentioned. Adding the 3 days of tour match to the 5 ODI's & 3 test matches, the total no. of playing days would be 23. I think you have also taken into account the 4 matches played by India during the earlier ASIA cup. That tournament lasted 10 days from Jun 15 to June 24 after which the Indians left for home & had taken a 18 day break till the current tour....!!!

  • Nampally on August 21, 2010, 23:12 GMT

    Besides the number of days played in a year, the environmental condition matter more. Indians play many matches in hot & humid conditions in India & SL. The ground surface is generally very hard under foot which is most damaging to the muscles. Consider the British condition where the grounds are relatively soft and friendly to the muscles and temperatures are low & comfortable. Playing in British conditions is far more congenial than playing in the Indian conditions. This is more important than the number of days played. The second factor is how closely the games are scheduled. You rightly say the schedules are bit shoddy. Third factor is the fitness (Physical & mental) of the individuals themselves.Dhoni played most of his days under far greater pressure on less body friendly ground surfaces than shane Watson did. It is like comparing oranges to apples. Yes we need to playing on different surfaces rather than those in Indian sub continent to make the players less injury prone.

  • jay57870 on August 21, 2010, 15:21 GMT

    Injuries are also a big issue: lacerations, muscle strains, concussions, fractures, etc. range in severity from cuts & bruises to surgeries & trauma. Still, it's amazing to see the players' resilience & endurance in overcoming adversity. Modern sports-medicine & strength-and-conditioning regimens, superior protective equipment & modern playing/training facilities help to alleviate the problem. Also important is the 3-4 month post-season break: it allows time for rehab, to relax with family & friends, and replenish their energy. Some undergo medical treatment. Many work out and practice to hone their skills and to build up strength & stamina for the next season. There is a good balance between play and rest. The final point: Elite NHL players have amazing staying power and longevity. Like Sachin. The Wings have at least 10 Hall of Famers who've played into their 40s with careers spanning 20+ years. They offer a benchmark of excellence worthy of emulation. Cricket can learn from hockey.

  • jay57870 on August 21, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    Sharda, I'm glad you included 'Mileage in other sports' as benchmarks. There's one more professional sport I'd like to add: Ice hockey. Besides NBA, MLB and NFL, the NHL (National Hockey League) is widely followed in North America. There are 30 franchises with 24 in the U.S. and 6 in Canada, with many elite players from Europe. The NHL schedule is physically and mentally very taxing: (1) Training camp and pre-season of 9 games in September; (2) Regular season of 82 home-and-away games, October to early-April; and (3) Playoffs for top 16 teams with 4 elimination rounds over 7-8 weeks, which can mean over 20 games for the two finalists. For example, the Detroit Red Wings (widely considered the best NHL franchise) played a total of 114 games in the 2008-09 season, a game in effect every 2-3 days. Furthermore, the season grinds through the harsh winter months with grueling air travel to far-flung cities across the vast expanse of the two countries. Fatigue therefore is a big issue.

  • Realhotshady on August 21, 2010, 3:23 GMT

    India are just complaining about the number of matches unnecessarily...I say they are playing less cricket....At this level they should play more...I mean to say more number of tests....

  • jigish.patel on August 20, 2010, 20:19 GMT

    @AsherCA - There's a difference between sitting at your desk for 250 days and play international level cricket in the field. Play one full 40-50 over game and you'll know what it is like.

    Regarding comparison with NBA, those games are 60 mins of playtime - nowhere near the amount of effort needed for an ODI or a test match. Tennis matches usually last 3 hours at most.

  • Irarum on August 20, 2010, 18:52 GMT

    Some one mentioned that Dhoni should keep his no.1 ranking..some bull*. Its not about Dhoni and his multi-million deal for ads. Its about team India. Why can't he ask Karthik to keep wickets in ODI or Test. or At least when he is injured severely. Agreed, Dravid did the same but not when he was injured and handling ball like it is 150C hot iron ball. Either you have rotation or reduce no.of interests or open calendar. Since Dhoni is regular he is complaining. Imagine Yuvi scoring 25 centuries and 40 odd 50s already. It would have been much worse. Its not just IPL. Its the amount of time spent in Ads. Indiscipline towards their profession. All this in the midst of MPs getting hike in Salaries, Tennis starts not being paid over 2 yrs, Hockey coaches harassing women players. Disgusting fate of a diverse country. God can only save this country. When every sport is controlled by Government, why not cricket? Indian govt, Please corrupt this sport and make players buy their own thigh pads.

  • vinsho23 on August 20, 2010, 15:43 GMT

    I totally agree with Sharda is saying, but the most important thing that is missing from her analysis, is the amount played by the indian team. Players played less amount of days as they were injured or having a break because of a long season. Can you please make an analysis of the number of playing days by the team wise instead of player wise that will give you an insight into the complaints of the players.

    And also can you please make another analysis of the amount of time players spending on the tours, as Indian team is in SriLanka for like 3 months and will be playing only 8 ODIs and 3 Tests. This counts into only 23 days of cricket but it is taking 90 days on the tour. Can you justify this based on your current analysis.

  • RogerC on August 20, 2010, 11:06 GMT

    You could have also factored the workload of the player into consideration. Hussey is not a bowler, Watson is a 3rd change bowler who is used as a surprise weapon. Dhoni is a wicket keeper who needs to sit down and stand up for each delivery. On top of that, he needs to perform his duties as a captain and keep his no. 1 ranking as a top order batsman. Think about the planning sessions, daily press briefings, interviews etc, that a captain has to go through. Indian selectors are mad to tax one guy with so much workload in Tests, ODI, T20 and IPL.

  • AsherCA on August 20, 2010, 9:43 GMT

    Dhoni & his team's demands on BCCI are totally unjustified.

    People in most other professions work a little over 250 days a month. Dhoni himself - the most active cricketer has worked only 94 !

    If they need time for family, they have the option of posing in fewer ads, OR like Sachin - taking some time off from Intl. Cricket.

    However I suspect -

    Fewer ad's means less money & therefore should not be considered. Taking time off from matches will allow BCCI to select a replacement who might deliver, making it difficult for the person taking time off to come back into the side on merit. That option therefore is risky & should be avoided.

    Players therefore are trying to gang-up & demand that BCCI reduces the # of matches.

  • fr.thommy on August 20, 2010, 9:11 GMT

    I used to remember the days when i was in India reading all the sports articles published in India Today by Sharda Ugra and i am glad to see her in Cricinfo now. Really its a ccherry on the icing on the cake of Cricinfo. Hats of to her and her language.

  • KamUSA on August 20, 2010, 8:26 GMT

    I am a regular reader of cricinfo. However over the last year or so i have noticed that it has become increasingly focussed on the Indian team and what they are or are not doing. I cant recall cricinfo being so focussed on otherteams in the past. I think every team deserves to be given their share of attention and coverage. This obsession with the Indian team and the Indian stars should stop. As to the issue of playing too much, i would only say that they are professionals and make mega bucks for playing...they should themselves determine hoy much their body can handle and plan accordingly, like some of the english players do. But please stop this obsession with Indian cricket team, i like to read about them, but sometimes the coverage is over the top. Batting records, of which Indians are past master of are given excessice attention in the stats guru, how about some focus on the art of bowling. But of course India does have not the quality bowlers, so this aspect is ignored. Thanks

  • Sanks555 on August 20, 2010, 7:16 GMT

    Why are other domestic T20 tournaments like KFC Big Bash or Provident T20 Cup not included? Why are domestic tournaments not included? Including them will only strengthen the hypothesis.

    The conclusion is right but the research methodology is wrong.

  • ATrueLegend on August 20, 2010, 4:52 GMT

    I completely agree with earlier comment. It is very funny that author of this article is counting number of days play for toll on player regardless of whether it was test match day or T20 day. It sounds somebody is counting number of currency notes regardless of value on each kind of currency. In any case, our board and players have habit of making excuses. When they play IPL, they say it is good practice for world cup. On getting out in first round in WC, their excuse is they played too much cricket. Basically, it is not amount of cricket but focus is problem for our players. They focus more on money, style and advertisement than cricket.

  • mk49_van on August 20, 2010, 1:07 GMT

    I think the Indians are sick and tired of playing the Lankans - hence the "inconsequential' matches. And they are right, I would be too. Snoozefests all.

  • Chuckworth on August 19, 2010, 23:38 GMT

    This table highlights what a remarkable turnaround Shane Watson has achieved over the past year. After all the interruptions he has had in his cricket career from injury, over the past yer he has managed to play more days of top international cricket than any other player. What is more, over that period he has performed with both bat and ball, averaging 47.1 with the former and 22.9 with the latter.

  • hkamall on August 19, 2010, 21:20 GMT

    They complain and still they play for money... it is as stupid as it sounds... Common sense is missing here completely. No one asked them to attend all night parties and do cat walk and shoot ads. Even players who miss international matches asking for rest and injuries gives 100% attendence to IPL and Champions league matches. Cricket fans are not stupid.

  • on August 19, 2010, 20:43 GMT

    I think a big thing to consider is the amount of time of field each person has and the intensity of presence.

    In cricket , the intensity might be lower but the field time is really long. I think rotation policies make sense to keep fitness of different players.

  • vaidyar on August 19, 2010, 19:33 GMT

    More than the number of days of cricket, it is the number of days they are on tour and the amount of breaks they get. Getting 2 months off before a 3 month long tour is not the same as playing the same number of days over 5 months with tiny one month breaks in different parts of the world. Consider traveling almost all the time to different parts of the world with minor niggles, a huge pressure to perform all the time, staying focused on their game day in and day out, practice sessions, strategy sessions, the game itself, no time to recover from anything there, go back to pressure. For Australia they have a good home season which means 6 months of the year they will be playing at home and nowhere else. And even there it is 5 tests + 7-10 ODIs which is like 35 days spread over 4-5 months at home. Rest of the year too they get one month breaks often as you've mentioned, so they are never really on the road all the time like the Indians who seem to get only a few weeks' break mostly.

  • vakkaraju on August 19, 2010, 18:39 GMT

    It is not days played. It is a lack of planning ahead. The schedules in Australia and England are known and public for the next five years. In India the players and even the administrators do not know the schedule. Everything done in the last minute, without any consideration to the players. The SL tests, NZ tests, the Tri series all last minute additions. The Aus tests are also hastily arranged. The BCCI should get its planning right, to optimize the results and protect the players from injury.

  • mikemaj1 on August 19, 2010, 18:15 GMT

    Why are these millionaires complaining about playing too much? Here in USA, they play 162 regular season baseball games. Plus those who get to the playoffs play several additional game. The teams that reach the World Series play additonal 7 (potentially) games. This is between April and October. Generally half the games are played at home ground and half on the road. They are not complaining. If they do, they don't play.... period.

  • Saleel-XI on August 19, 2010, 16:08 GMT

    wow, that is the WORST way to compare the amount of cricket played between 2 players - "total days played." do you actually believe that ONE day of test cricket, which accounts for 90 overs, that too during the heat of the day is EQUAL to a game of Twenty20 played usually under lights under cooler conditions for only a total of 40 overs?!! How can someone say that if Dravid-Laxman bat out the Australians all day in the heat of Kolkata for a 400-run partnership, and a partnership of 40-runs in the last 4 overs in a T20 can be both tagged as "one day of cricket played" ...thats absurd !! according to Statsguru, Raina should be rated a better player than Sir Don Bradman as his average is 111.50, higher than Sir Don's 99.94. Thats silly because Raina has only played 2 matches... point here is that there is more to facts than what meets the eye when specifying a statistic. i agree that BCCI have the scheduling all wrong but the table showing "days played" as evidence is incorrect!

  • mrgupta on August 19, 2010, 15:14 GMT

    I think to some extent you are right that the schedules are very badly managed. But i feel its not the number of days our team has been playing its the number they are about to play. You yourself have quoted a Team personnel saying they fear that they might not have their best XI in SA or at the WC. Thats the bottom line. Many big players are injured and many other like Dhoni are just escaping injuries. The Current tournament cud have been avoided and specially i don't see much significance of scheduling 3 Test + 5 ODI with NZ just ahead of SA tour and the WC. I am big fan of Test matches but 3 with NZ is bit a too much and instead the focus should have been on the matches against SA. I feel the concern by the team is mostly justified.

  • Sunsunny7867 on August 19, 2010, 14:55 GMT

    I entirely agree with you spritwithin. That is exactly what I am saying.

  • spiritwithin on August 19, 2010, 12:31 GMT

    @Just_slogout..u did'nt seem to understand any of the point made by sharda,is it??she has given da stats where there r 7 indians & 5 australians out of 20 most busy cricketers(no need to give ur stats here) in da last 12 months which include all the cricketing events and not just ICC events but whats da point she made here is da scheduling and structure of cricket tours by indian teams..australians though played for so many days but still they gets holidays in a large chunk whereas indian players does'nt get that,EX-for 100days of cricket indian team will b touring for 300 days but australia will tour for only 200 days and give its team a rest for 100 days...thats a major difference

  • Sunsunny7867 on August 19, 2010, 11:53 GMT

    I dont think the total no. of days actually played is bothering the players. When a team is away touring, they are away from their families for 2-3 months. Even when they have a home series, they are away from their families for long durations. Being home and away makes a lot of difference whether you are playing or not. The schedule needs to be planned properly in order to keep the players fresh. If they are able to spend quality time with their families, no matter how many days they play, they will not complain.

  • on August 19, 2010, 11:47 GMT

    U cannot just take the number of cricket days alone. A 5 day test cricket is arguably less taxing on the players than 5 ODIs or 5 T20s.

  • on August 19, 2010, 11:40 GMT

    Don't know why Indians always feel other teams are always better than ours :-)

    Dhoni is a captain+wicket keeper+ batsman (with a bottom hand heavy style)

    So I beleive the pressure + hard work of Dhoni for 94 days far supercedes a once-in-a-bluemoon Watson effort or a Hussey who is a pure batsman and rested before IPL and also during IPL. Johnson was given a big vacation by ACA for his efforts.. So he too got ample rest as he was also away from IPL :-)

    Dhoni returned just a week after marriage something will never happen in Austraila or any other team.

    So give credit where its due... Better luck for a better article next time Sharda :-)

  • on August 19, 2010, 11:35 GMT

    First of all the writer here seems to maintain a tone which indicates that Sharda does not feel Indian cricketers are playing too much.So u cant expect an un-partial column

    Secondly kudos to Shane Watson but we need to see that u r comparing once in a bluemoon full season playing Shane watson with an ever busy set of Indian cricketers.. Watson has been off from cricket for long intervals.So him playing a full year suddenly does not make him most playing cricketer :) let see what happens next yr.

    Hussey never really slogged in IPL.. just came late to IPL after a BREAK from cricket and even in 3 games did not bat a long time.. So again he has got more rest

    Johnson is the only guy who deserves the credit for maintaining supreme fitness... He looks and is a very fit fast bowler and was the beast of burden for Aus. last yr. But again he too was given a long vacation by Aus. cricket association. Also he did not play IPL.

    So i feel Dhoni's job is way more tiring than all 3 above him

  • Rajesh. on August 19, 2010, 8:50 GMT

    The Indians don't play too much...... they just play too much of the shorter versions of the game. Get the balance right and schedule it properly and all will be well !!

  • on August 19, 2010, 8:34 GMT

    Nice post and analysis by Sharda...thank you for that....but Sharda dnt u think u forget one f d very important activity i.e. advertising nd sponsorship done by Indian players are now part f their cricketing schedule nd they r most busiest cricketer on earth in that regards so add another 50 to 70 days in tht calculation nd find out d load f our Cricket machines......lolzzzzzz

  • Siddiee on August 19, 2010, 7:17 GMT

    ), which is again significant as the series in India has turned out to be competitive for them in past decade where as none of the series being played by India except the one again Australia (which also has been shortened to 2 test matches) is kind of a consequential series considering that our players have gone through enough cricket already in past year. Its just the case that BCCI wants them to play test match at every available opportunity just to retain no 1 spot. And once the world cup is over, aussies might find some rest but the IPL (BCCI owned tournament) will resume and team Indian players will again find themselves playing in a hectic schedule, so its indeed a bad planning by BCCI

  • Siddiee on August 19, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    The case should be looked upon comprehensively, your column has a mention of cricket played in the past 12 months but no consideration has been given to the cricket planned by respective Boards in upcoming months. Since world cup is an important tournament for all the teams, I have just worked out the number of days of cricket planned for 8 major teams in a 4 month period prior to world cup i.e from Oct to Jan. Here it goes - NZ - 20 ,WI & Pakistan -21, Sri Lanka 25, Eng 32, SA 42, Australia 49 and India 54. Since SA hasn't played the game madly over the past 12 months, ill compare India and Australia. Out of 49 days of cricket, aussies are playing 25 days for ashes which is indeed a very meaningful series and few days of cricket in India (2 match test series), which is again significant as the series in India has turned out to be competitive for them in past decade where as none of the series being played by India except the one against Aus (which also has been shortened) ..contnd..

  • 68704 on August 19, 2010, 7:05 GMT

    Interesting analysis Sharda. I think the Australians play the maximum cricket,but there is an attempt to manage their time and schedules, unlike the BCCI which callously says, "Players need not play if they are tired". Half the time the BCCI is only interested in sabre rattling and issuing threats, whether to other boards, Lalit Modi or the players themselves. I think it is important to remember that without players there is no game, no eyeballs, no following. The players are afraid of the board and one remembers what happened to Srikant in his playing days.Today of course Srikant is more BCCI than the BCCI itself! I think player load management is an important part of the game and I think players like yuvaraj are patently unfit . I wish the BCCI would think a little long term and worry about the game which is giving it all its clout and revenue. I also wish that a strong players association happens. Maybe someone like Saurav Ganguly would be ideal to represent the players sridha

  • Just_slogout on August 19, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    I was just looking at the stats to figure out the winner of the ICC awards and surprisingly found out that, from 24th aug 2009 to 10th aug 2010, Shane watson has played 59 matches (All), whereas Tendulkar and Sehwag has played 27 and 31 matches respectively. Top 6 players, who has played most number of matches in same period, are Australians and we don't see them crying like whiny. If we account for the IPL and champions league (where Australians also played) it doesn't do any justice to their hue and cry.

  • lord_v on August 19, 2010, 6:20 GMT

    we don;t have a touring 16 and a backup 16 to do full rotations. At most we can muster 22-23 folks @ international level. Lets list for 1-day - Sehwag,Gambhir M Vijay,Karthik,Uthappa,Kohli,SRT,Manish,Roht, Badri,Yuvi,Dhoni,Irfan,Yusuf Ojha,Chawla,M Karthik,Zaheer,Nehra,Sresanth,Ishant,Saurabh Tiwari And some of them would drop out due to injuries anyways... What happened to Dhoni's dream of having 24 people to chose from with 50+ one day experience.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on August 19, 2010, 4:24 GMT

    There is too much international cricket played by ALL TEAMS! The mere fact Kevin Peterson has not played for his county for ever is a little proof of this. The ENTIRE FTP needs to be sorted out, both volume and balance but of course we know the ICC is none existent.

  • crikbuff on August 19, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    The entire issue stinks of hypocrisy - if our players are injured, why do they take rest from internation matches. Instead, can they not stay away from the tamasha of IPL and CL? BCCI has created this Frankenstein's ghost called IPL, and now it is going out of control. Soon we will have cricketers wanting to pull out of international cricket completely, and focus only on their IPL money! Only then will our nation realise the blunder of supporting IPL. There's still time - let's boycott IPL and save cricket - if they don't have viewers, the model will not be sustainable anymore.

  • superkid007 on August 19, 2010, 3:33 GMT

    i feel dhoni is getting tired with his money minting commercials and parties. If any player in any team feels he is overly playing he has the right to take rest and give others a chance. It is good for the world cup. I think he should have been rested for this series and utappa given a chance. Indians and all cricket lovers around the world r anyways going to watch cricket even if dhoni, sachin or yuvraj r not playing. SO these celebrities should not feel that the entire cricket business is dependent on their shoulders and just move aside and give a place to hungry youngsters who r in line. when is sachin going to retire if in case india doesn't win this world cup??

  • Harry0009 on August 19, 2010, 3:31 GMT

    Barring some of the top cricketers, I wonder how come folks like Yuvi strike form when in IPL. Some of the cricketers are having totally unacceptable pot-bellies.

    Agreed their calendar is very poorly scheduled but does it also have to do with the attitude of the players?

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  • Harry0009 on August 19, 2010, 3:31 GMT

    Barring some of the top cricketers, I wonder how come folks like Yuvi strike form when in IPL. Some of the cricketers are having totally unacceptable pot-bellies.

    Agreed their calendar is very poorly scheduled but does it also have to do with the attitude of the players?

  • superkid007 on August 19, 2010, 3:33 GMT

    i feel dhoni is getting tired with his money minting commercials and parties. If any player in any team feels he is overly playing he has the right to take rest and give others a chance. It is good for the world cup. I think he should have been rested for this series and utappa given a chance. Indians and all cricket lovers around the world r anyways going to watch cricket even if dhoni, sachin or yuvraj r not playing. SO these celebrities should not feel that the entire cricket business is dependent on their shoulders and just move aside and give a place to hungry youngsters who r in line. when is sachin going to retire if in case india doesn't win this world cup??

  • crikbuff on August 19, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    The entire issue stinks of hypocrisy - if our players are injured, why do they take rest from internation matches. Instead, can they not stay away from the tamasha of IPL and CL? BCCI has created this Frankenstein's ghost called IPL, and now it is going out of control. Soon we will have cricketers wanting to pull out of international cricket completely, and focus only on their IPL money! Only then will our nation realise the blunder of supporting IPL. There's still time - let's boycott IPL and save cricket - if they don't have viewers, the model will not be sustainable anymore.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on August 19, 2010, 4:24 GMT

    There is too much international cricket played by ALL TEAMS! The mere fact Kevin Peterson has not played for his county for ever is a little proof of this. The ENTIRE FTP needs to be sorted out, both volume and balance but of course we know the ICC is none existent.

  • lord_v on August 19, 2010, 6:20 GMT

    we don;t have a touring 16 and a backup 16 to do full rotations. At most we can muster 22-23 folks @ international level. Lets list for 1-day - Sehwag,Gambhir M Vijay,Karthik,Uthappa,Kohli,SRT,Manish,Roht, Badri,Yuvi,Dhoni,Irfan,Yusuf Ojha,Chawla,M Karthik,Zaheer,Nehra,Sresanth,Ishant,Saurabh Tiwari And some of them would drop out due to injuries anyways... What happened to Dhoni's dream of having 24 people to chose from with 50+ one day experience.

  • Just_slogout on August 19, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    I was just looking at the stats to figure out the winner of the ICC awards and surprisingly found out that, from 24th aug 2009 to 10th aug 2010, Shane watson has played 59 matches (All), whereas Tendulkar and Sehwag has played 27 and 31 matches respectively. Top 6 players, who has played most number of matches in same period, are Australians and we don't see them crying like whiny. If we account for the IPL and champions league (where Australians also played) it doesn't do any justice to their hue and cry.

  • 68704 on August 19, 2010, 7:05 GMT

    Interesting analysis Sharda. I think the Australians play the maximum cricket,but there is an attempt to manage their time and schedules, unlike the BCCI which callously says, "Players need not play if they are tired". Half the time the BCCI is only interested in sabre rattling and issuing threats, whether to other boards, Lalit Modi or the players themselves. I think it is important to remember that without players there is no game, no eyeballs, no following. The players are afraid of the board and one remembers what happened to Srikant in his playing days.Today of course Srikant is more BCCI than the BCCI itself! I think player load management is an important part of the game and I think players like yuvaraj are patently unfit . I wish the BCCI would think a little long term and worry about the game which is giving it all its clout and revenue. I also wish that a strong players association happens. Maybe someone like Saurav Ganguly would be ideal to represent the players sridha

  • Siddiee on August 19, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    The case should be looked upon comprehensively, your column has a mention of cricket played in the past 12 months but no consideration has been given to the cricket planned by respective Boards in upcoming months. Since world cup is an important tournament for all the teams, I have just worked out the number of days of cricket planned for 8 major teams in a 4 month period prior to world cup i.e from Oct to Jan. Here it goes - NZ - 20 ,WI & Pakistan -21, Sri Lanka 25, Eng 32, SA 42, Australia 49 and India 54. Since SA hasn't played the game madly over the past 12 months, ill compare India and Australia. Out of 49 days of cricket, aussies are playing 25 days for ashes which is indeed a very meaningful series and few days of cricket in India (2 match test series), which is again significant as the series in India has turned out to be competitive for them in past decade where as none of the series being played by India except the one against Aus (which also has been shortened) ..contnd..

  • Siddiee on August 19, 2010, 7:17 GMT

    ), which is again significant as the series in India has turned out to be competitive for them in past decade where as none of the series being played by India except the one again Australia (which also has been shortened to 2 test matches) is kind of a consequential series considering that our players have gone through enough cricket already in past year. Its just the case that BCCI wants them to play test match at every available opportunity just to retain no 1 spot. And once the world cup is over, aussies might find some rest but the IPL (BCCI owned tournament) will resume and team Indian players will again find themselves playing in a hectic schedule, so its indeed a bad planning by BCCI

  • on August 19, 2010, 8:34 GMT

    Nice post and analysis by Sharda...thank you for that....but Sharda dnt u think u forget one f d very important activity i.e. advertising nd sponsorship done by Indian players are now part f their cricketing schedule nd they r most busiest cricketer on earth in that regards so add another 50 to 70 days in tht calculation nd find out d load f our Cricket machines......lolzzzzzz