Far from the heat and noise generated in Australia over a packed cricket schedule, the Indian team thinktank has quietly conveyed this message to the BCCI : go easy on tournaments, at least till the World Cup .
Just before they took on Pakistan in the first one-dayer in A bu Dhabi on April 18, the team is learnt to have requested BCCI president Sharad Pawar not to schedule any more tournaments than those on the existing schedule till the World Cup, starting next March in the West Indies .
Two independent sources who were present during the 15-minute interaction at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi told The Sunday Express that Pawar assured the players that the BCCI would take the players into confidence on this issue.
â€˜â€˜It was a very cordial meeting. First, (Greg) Chappell spoke, then (Rahul) Dravid and Harbhajan (Singh). With the World Cup coming up, they wanted the BCCI not to add any more tournaments to the schedule,â€™â€™ said one source.
What prompted the players to voice their concern, the sources said, was the news of a proposed one-day tri-series in Abu Dhabi later this year and the buzz regarding another one-day tournament that is being planned in Singapore.
However, in an interview with The Sunday Express (see page 10), Pawar said â€˜â€˜no such specific concerns were raisedâ€™â€™ during the Abu Dhabi meeting. â€˜â€˜We always discuss the scheduling of matches and workload with captains and senior players. I personally believe that we have to strike a balance. Our maximum effort is to solve the problems of players, improve conditions.â€™â€™
India has played 34 ODIs and 11 Tests in this season so far and the team leaves in the second week of May for the five-ODI, four-Test series in the West Indies. Then, thereâ€™s the ICC Champions Trophy scheduled from October 7 to November 5 in India.
However, the problem lies in the host of matches the BCCI has listedâ€”the dates have not been finalisedâ€”and those they are planning to organise. â€˜â€˜With so many matches coming up, what would happen, say, if (MS) Dhoni got injured before the World Cup?â€™â€™ asked a source.
The burnout issue hit the headlines early this month when Tim May, chief, Federation of International Cricketers Association, warned players may go on strike if ICC did not rework its schedule. He was essentially speaking for the Australian team after it played five Tests in five weeks till the Bangladesh series this month. The Australians, even the English, are also worried that the Champions Trophy may hit their run-up to the Ashes in December.
â€˜Itâ€™s a challengeâ€™
MUMBAI: Skipper Rahul Dravid isnâ€™t quite keen to enter the debate but said on Saturday â€˜â€˜everything isnâ€™t perfect in this worldâ€™â€™. Eleven Tests and 34 ODIs was par for the course, he added, â€˜â€˜at times there is less gap between two series.â€™â€™ On the back-to-back calendar, he said: â€˜â€˜Itâ€™s a challenge for the management and selectors to rotate players.â€™â€™