Australia's male players faced an "unprecedented schedule" last summer, according to national selector Trevor Hohns. Australia coach Justin Langer also noted early in his tenure that the schedule was one of the biggest challenges facing Cricket Australia and the men's team. With CA announcing the 2019-20 summer schedule, it's worth looking at how much the contracted players are likely to play compared to the currently contract period.
Australia have played eight Tests, 16 ODIs and 15 T20Is to this point in the 2018-19 contract period that runs from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. They will play eight more ODIs prior to June 30. That does not include the practice matches in the lead-up to the World Cup.
Based off the scheduled fixtures in the World Cup after July 1, the Ashes series, the summer schedule released by CA, and the Future Tours Programme, in the 2019-20 contract period Australia appears set to play 12 Tests (although two against Bangladesh are yet to be confirmed and remain in doubt), 13 ODIs (potentially 15 if Australia make the World Cup final) and 15 T20Is, for a total of 88 scheduled days (90 possible).
*Numbers used cover July 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019 unless stated
Aaron Finch has played more international games, 36, and more days, 55, than any other Australian player over the period, and looks set to play eight more. He has played five Tests, 16 ODIs and 15 T20Is in the period. Travis Head played eight Tests, three ODIs and five T20Is, for 44 total days, but won't play in the World Cup. But Head played more days of first-class, List A and T20 cricket, 100, than any other player in world cricket. Finch was 10th on that list with 86. By comparison, Langer played 130 days of cricket in 2006-07.
Peter Handscomb played three Tests, 13 ODIs and two T20Is, for 30 total days, but also won't feature in the World Cup. Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh have not played any T20Is in the last year but have played 49 and 42 days respectively over the period, to be among the top four batsmen in terms of days played.
By comparison, India captain Virat Kohli played 75 days of international cricket in the same period. He will play all of India's World Cup matches. Sri Lanka batsman Kusal Mendis played 67. England's Joe Root had played 64 days prior to the start of the English season. There are 16 players who have played more international cricket over the period than Finch and 29 more than Khawaja.
Smith and Warner are likely to be the only players potentially picked for all three formats over the next year but it is highly unlikely they will play every game. Finch will slip well down the list given he is no longer in the Test team.
Shaun Marsh is now only a one-format player and turns 36 in July. He received a CA contract for 2019-20 but unless he is elevated back into the Test side he may only play 13 of the 88 scheduled days. It should be noted, Cricket Australia invested one of the 20 national contracts in 2018-19 to Matt Renshaw and he did not play a single game for Australia in the period.
The Fast Bowlers
Unsurprisingly Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson were the only three fast bowlers to play in all three forms. They played 40, 38 and 22 days respectively, with Starc and Cummins set to play more cricket in the World Cup, although the fast bowlers have their workloads measured in overs rather than days. Starc bowled 289.4 overs while Cummins bowled 285 over the period. Richardson only bowled 193 overs at international level, but including domestic matches for Western Australia and Perth Scorchers he delivered 424.3 overs.
In the same period, India's Mohammed Shami played 58 days of international cricket and bowled 439 overs. Jasprit Bumrah played 53 days and bowled 425 overs. Kagiso Rabada played 46 days for South Africa and delivered 370.3 overs. England's James Anderson, who plays Test cricket only, played more days (42) and bowled more overs (322.5) than any Australian quick. England allrounder Ben Stokes bowled 289.4 overs, the same as Starc, and played 56 days.
No Australian bowler will play anywhere close to the 88 scheduled days in 2019-20 and the addition of extra bowlers onto the contract list in James Pattinson and Nathan Coulter-Nile will allow for rest and rotation, although Coulter-Nile has not played first-class cricket since 2017 and is unlikely to play any in the next 12 months. Non-contracted bowlers can expect upgrades as there will be ample opportunities to play.
Nathan Lyon was one of only three players, alongside Finch and Khawaja to play more than 50 days for Australia in this contract period. He has played 47 so far and bowled 555.5 overs. There a number of global spinners who have played more days but have come close to Lyon's bowling workload in the past 10 months. Adam Zampa has so far played 22 limited-overs matches after starting the 2018-19 period without a contract, but has been elevated to a national contract for 2019-20.
Australia's wicketkeeping duties are split. The Test captain and wicketkeeper Tim Paine played 36 days of Test cricket over the period but needed a rest to freshen up during the back end of the Sheffield Shield summer although it was a far-from-normal time to be leading the Test team. Alex Carey played 29 limited-overs matches and will add eight more as the sole keeper and co-vice-captain of the World Cup squad.
Sri Lanka's wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella played 65 days of international cricket over the same period. Pakistan's wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed played 60 days before arriving in England and was captain for all of them. South Africa's keeper in all three formats, Quinton de Kock, played 47 days of international cricket in the same period.