It’s been a topic of discussion for several years now. The cricket calendar is filled with test matches, one-dayers and Twenty20 matches almost all of the year. Players are becoming more fatigued, have increased susceptibility to injuries, and are spending less time with family.
The addition of tournaments such as the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Twenty20 World Cup have been squeezed into schedules that scream alarmingly busy. So the question now stands: what is the go for the future?
There are certainly possibilities to resolve the issue. The International Cricket Council (ICC) could set rules that limit national teams to a certain number of matches per year. Teams and players are racing between countries to get to the next series and begin another routine of training and matches.
It seems to come down to two questions: 1) do we really need the insane amount of tournaments crammed into every schedule? 2) what can the fans be given so they experience quality cricket all year round?
One solution is to cut Twenty20 matches and tournaments down to just the domestic scene. While there have been plenty of calls Twenty20 is “not cricket” it has certainly been a driver in bringing bigger audiences to games. One-off Twenty20’s and the Champions League Twenty20 simply don’t fit into a massively tight schedule. The call by Cricket Australia to bring Shane Watson home from the Champions League to be fresh for the start of the first test is evident of the amount of cricket the elite are playing today.
Another idea could be to cut the travel for teams, or host tests and one-dayers in the same tour, rather than holding them a year apart between the same teams. Family is very important, especially if the cricketers have children. Players are away for months at a time in a country thousands of kilometres from home.
Ultimately, fans, players and coaches alike are looking at schedules jammed tight with matches and practice. If these players get time back at local clubs or with their state, not only could their form improve, but it gives them time to regain confidence. The busy timetable doesn’t allow for very much back at the grassroots level, but the time these cricketers do get there is invaluable – they’re free from the burdens of national pressure.