Complaining about too much cricket sheer nonsense

Pakistan’s cricket team has left for England to play four Tests — the first of which starts on July 13 at Lord’s — and five One-day Internationals during its two-and-a-half months stay. Pakistan has remained unbeaten on English soil in Tests since 1987, but now the injury-hit side has a 50-50 chance of maintaining its unbeaten record.

Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq faces a few worries regarding the fitness of some key players at this crucial stage. Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has already been ruled out for the series as he had failed to recover from his ankle injury.

Shoaib’s unavailability was expected, but the most shocking news for Inzamam must be Rana Naved-ul-Hasan’s hamstring damage, which is likely to keep him away from the game for at least six weeks. Rana suffered the injury while playing for English county Sussex last month.

Obviously it’s a great setback for the Pakistani team, Rana Naved was in a good form and his contribution for Sussex had fetched him 34 wickets in his last five matches. He is a bowler ideally suited for English conditions where swing bowlers get more wickets than the bowlers who depends only on pace.

Injuries to leading players in cricket are a common phenomenon now and many countries are facing this type of a crisis. Such injuries take place just because of mismanagement of relevant boards or the players themselves.

Players are human beings after all and need rest along with today’s excessive cricket. Throughout the year in this world, ODI tournaments, Test series and county cricket are played regularly and we can see not much of a gap, which a player must require.

These days cricket is played throughout the year with short breaks due to which the injury ratio among the players has increased. Fast bowlers receive more injuries; Glenn McGrath, Shoaib Akhtar, Steve Harmeson, Simon Jones and now Rana Naved-ul-Hassan are the current examples. But huge financial benefits encourage the players to participate in every game. They even do not miss charity matches to make some money.

An angry Inzamam criticised the Sussex management for excessively using Rana in county matches. The complaint does not seem to be a genuine one. It looks more like a frustrated statement from a skipper who’s obviously worried about his limited and inexperienced bowling attack ahead of the important tour.

Sussex Cricket Manager Mark Robinson reacted to Inzamam’s allegation by stating that the county never treated Rana unfairly and on an average he bowled under 17 overs in an innings and that too in two or three spells, which could not be described as ‘overuse’.

“Following Rana’s injury Sussex immediately withdrew him from all bowling, the groin was scanned and we gave him the best medical attention possible,” he went on to add.

On one side Inzamam is complaining of non-stop cricket while on the other hand after the first day of the practice match for tour preparation he said that “we arrange practice matches because players have not been playing cricket for the last two months and they don’t have match practice.”

Now the question is: why the players tend to figure in county games or for that matter in exhibition and charity matches despite complaining about too many international assignments? Of course, money is the most important factor.

Promises of huge sums of money make it difficult for them to resist such offers. When they’re not on national duty they can do as they please. Nobody can force them to put more burden on their already weary bodies, but it is the players themselves who are to be blamed. If the money on offer is good enough they would be willing to go wherever and whenever their sponsors want them to go. So there’s no point in complaining about ‘too much cricket’.

Even if we agree that Essex did use Rana excessively, what’s wrong with that? Did not we mete out the same treatment to Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis when they were in their prime? All captains relied on them too much and used them at every available opportunity.

Nobody can restrict any county to use their players with limited liability and bowlers with excessive bowling. In any contract between the county and players, there is no clause to restrict the skipper or management for not giving bowling after specified overs. If any bowler taking wickets then how can any skipper think about to remove him from the attack and obviously his county paying him a huge amount for his services.

Players are getting a handsome amount from the board after signing central contracts, receive millions as match fee, daily allowance, wining bonus etc etc for each series. So how much do they want to earn and why are they taking risks like injuries for playing without rest.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should also take notice of the players’ excessive cricket either for county or country. They are our national assets and board is paying them salary and other benefits along with heavy expenditure for their treatment when required just to keep them fit for national duties. But at the time when the team needs a 100 percent fit player — they find them injured and not available for the national side.

Many players don’t take part in domestic cricket for ‘personal reasons’ but always remain available for county and charity matches abroad even in non-Test playing countries.

Senior players should skip matches against low ranked or weak sides so they will remain fit and fresh for against the tough opposition. The second advantage of the senior players’ exclusion would be that junior players could be tested for gaining some international experience. In the absence of such practices, most of the time the Pakistan cricket management is trying young players against good opposition or in crunch matches where junior players get their confidence shattered instead.

Khurram Mahmood works in the art department in ‘The News on Sunday’ in Karachi.

[email protected]

Source:The News

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Written by Team CricketViewer on June 25th, 2006 with no comments.
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