The world cup is just a few weeks away and apart from one more game between Australia and NZ, there will be nothing between now and the World cup. This break will give teams a chance to rest, rejuvenate and recuperate from the injury woes that they have been facing. Most of the teams have been playing non-stop cricket the last few weeks, and sooner or later, ICC and the cricket boards will have to recognize that this overload is the reason for this spate of injuries and do something about it.
Let us look at the games each team has played since the beginning of this year:
That is an awful number of games, considering the fact that it has just been 50 days since the beginning of this year and the premier event in world cricket is due to start shortly.
If we look at Australia’s schedule, they’ve just finished the Ashes, followed it up with a tri-series involving England and NZ and ended it with a three match ODI series against NZ. Their injury list includes Lee (left ankle), Symonds (biceps), Clarke (hip) and Ponting (back). They are probably both mentally and physically tired after all this cricket and their results show it – 5 losses in 6 games! Not the ideal scenario before the start of the world cup.
England have had a tough tour in Australia and their team is filled with people recovering from injuries. Their injury woes started with Vaughn not making it for the Ashes and it has followed with Trescothick (stress), James Anderson, Jon Lewis and Peiterson.
In India, Sachin is nursing a stiff back and Pathan is not fully fit. Munaf and Yuvraj are just back from Injury. For New Zealand, Kyle Mills has completely missed the cup owing to Knee Surgery; Jacob Oram is going to miss a few games and no one knows when the fragile Bond is going to break down. Pakistan has had its whole fast bowling contingent under an injury cloud – Shoaib Akthar(knee), Mohammad Asif (elbow), Umar Gul (ankle), Shabbir Ahmed (groin), Mohammed Sami (back). If some of them have been taking performance enhancing drugs, it surely hasn’t helped with the injuries 🙂
Apparently(!), every team’s schedule has been planned well in advance to give the players the best chance of match practice and be their best before the World Cup. But it seems, this has had the exact opposite effect on players. We are looking at the possibility of teams such as Australia struggling to play their best eleven. There really is no thrill in beating a team like Australia if its top players are not playing due to injury.
So, what is the solution to this? Quite simple – play less number of matches.
Or use a radical approach – reduce the number of overs in all ODIs. Even a reduction of 10 overs per team will probably give players a big relief. If we continue to play more matches, we should reduce this even further. We could even substitute ODIs with more Twenty20 matches. It is also time to reduce the number of matches played in a test series (like the Ashes) to just 3.
Until ICC takes the cue and takes some serious action, we are going to see more and more injuries – and careers of good cricketers cut short.