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FICA accuses boards of putting cash before players

Tim May, the chief executive of FICA, the international players' association, has warned that his members might consider strike action

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Brett Lee: running on empty ... but how many more are like him? © Getty Images
Tim May, the chief executive of FICA, the international players' association, has warned that his members might consider strike action if something is not done to address the non-stop schedule imposed on them by their own boards.
The subject of player burnout has been in the headlines all week, and comments from the Australian camp in Bangladesh have underlined the seriousness of the situation. Brett Lee admitted that he was "running on fumes" and Ricky Ponting said that there were some in the team's dressing-room who were "fatigued and exhausted".
"We're frustrated, we're concerned, we're disappointed the ICC and the member countries aren't abiding by principles that are supposed to be abided by in the scheduling of tours," May told the Sun Herald. "It's very, very high risk. It devalues the game because your players aren't at their best. The guys don't have time to prepare professionally for games.
"The stakeholders, the spectators, miss out. You get rotation policies but even that devalues the games and the teams and the spectacle. Guys start going through the motions. Their bodies are extremely fatigued. They just can't keep doing it. I don't know what the next step is. Some players might take it into their own hands."
May, who has not recently seen eye-to-eye with the ICC, said that the issue had been doing the round for some time but nothing had been done by boards or the ICC.
An ICC spokesman told Cricinfo that the Future Tours Programme had been extended from five to six years to ease the burden, and he added that many players actually wanted to play more cricket as it directly boosted their income.
But May told Cricinfo that the FTP was not the major problem. "Simply the ICC is powerless to stop revenue-driven member boards who appear to have little regard for the very asset that produces these revenues," he said. "The FTP, which is already overcrowded , is not a definitive cap on the number of games that can be played over the six-year period.
"Countries can schedule any number of additional games without any effective control being able to be exerted by the ICC. The scheduling of matches has been out of control for a number of years, is careering further out of control and will continue to do so, until the ICC is empowered to do something to protect the interests of the players and the value of the game.
"The effect of player exhaustion is there to see and it is not just confined to the Australian team -endless scheduling of matches has a negative effect on the performance levels of individuals and the teams that they represent and contributes significantly to the level of players absent from the international stage , through injury, rotation policies or early retirements from one form of the game or the other.
"Players are professional cricketers, they want to be able to prepare professionally and be able to compete in the top physical and mental condition in all of their international obligations.
"The current schedule of matches does not allow several teams to do so. The question is - does this do anything to enhance the value of the game of cricket?"

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo