Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Cricket's Overdose -- Killing the Goose?

Life can be tenuous at times and with an increased workload, things can work up minds. Cricket is not alien to these pressures. In an era, where professionalism has come to dominate the game, cricketers have added responsibilites. Not just to play in different parts of the globe, but also adjust to the climes and surfaces. With hectic tour schedules, many cricketers have very often complained about the slog they had to undergo. With more and more LOI matches along with the new found manna of T20 being the flavour, the workload of cricketers have been an onslaught leading to burn-out of the players. Australians have often voiced their concern in this regard. Indians too have opined the same at times.

Indian LOI captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the least complaining on this entire issue, as he often stated that being professional cricketers, these demands of the game's expansion have to be met them. Hence, there had to be no complaints by the cricketers, whose earnings had also concomitantly increased with professionalism. But the non-stop cricket played by Dhoni since the England tour in July 2007 saw him miss only the last test against Pakistan in Bangalore in December of the same year. He undertook the team Down Under and lead the team to win the CB series. Later, he got on to the T20 jamboree of IPL captaining Chennai Super Kings in all their 16 matches including the final against Rajasthan Royals.

Such a strenuous regimen finally caught up with Dhoni, and he complained of the format of the Asia Cup where India often had to play back-to-back matches. Even during the press conferences, he was not critical of his bowlers for leaking runs. Neither did he found faults with his fielders for the sloppiness in catching. He reasoned all this due to the effect of non-stop cricket. As India lost the final to the exploits of Ajantha Mendis, Dhoni finally broke open and finally opted out of the test series in Sri Lanka. This drives us to the larger question of such blind following of the international commitments. Though the Future Tour Programme calendar of the ICC has to be followed, the unmindful acts of the BCCI also have to be questioned. The timing of the tournaments in Bangladesh and Pakistan have really found no water. With Dhaka in the midst of the monsoon, and Pakistan in the height of summer, both the tourneys were ill-timed. The searing heat in Lahore and Karachi saw even the fans giving matches a skip. Even Indo-Pak encounters failed to fill the stadia. Compounding this were the lifeless wickets in both tourneys. 300 runs were scored and also chased successfully in almost all matches. The bowlers were made mincemeat and the fielders sent on leather hunts. The months of April-May, which earlier were the periods to rest for the tired legs and bodies have been eaten away by IPL. Such an overdose of cricket with sponsorships, endorsements, marketing and television rights and revenues have not only devoured the physique of the players, but also their minds. For a healthy body a mind is paramount. Cricket is also more of a mind game and positive thoughts have to be finely implemented to see larger success. The increasing demands for Sandy Gordons and Paddy Uptons exemplify this fact.

The recurring injuries resulting from such overkill of the game also dampens the spirits of the teams as well as of their fans. Due to such heightened professionalism, the players have also sought to hide their injuries and strains to meet the increased demands. Thus, cent percent commitment is often compromised. Though it may be a vicious circle, it is important that the responsible for well-being of the game take cognizance of this concern and initiate measures to remedy such plaguing ills. This would only refresh the hearts and minds of the players, thus saving them from monotony as well as preserving their bodies from wounds.

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