The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ICC ignores my warnings of burnout

The intensity of modern schedules has a direct correlation with the amount of injuries suffered by leading players and despite my raising of this at international captainsí meetings the authorities appear blind to the problem.

It seems as though the people in charge of international schedules are only interested in how much money they can make in one calendar year. They sell every possible date to television companies, leaving the players as a final thought. We mention this at captainsí meetings and the ICC representative says they are looking into it, yet nothing is done.

Despite assurances to the contrary I have seen an increase in the amount of cricket rather than a reduction and it worries me that the sport has become a money-making exercise.

We are creating a situation where the best players like Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralidharan will slowly go out of the game through injury. We will then have a bunch of stale cricketers plodding along on the international treadmill.

The increase in cricket means players are making more money but that is not the reason we play. Iím not here to take as much money as possible and suck the game dry. I want to compete against the best but if we continue to play non-stop cricket that will not happen.

To cope with the demands, players lower their levels of performance because competing at 100 per cent every day is simply asking for injury. The likes of Glenn McGrath and Shaun Pollock drop a yard in pace in one-day cricket to protect their bodies and Iím not sure that is good for cricket. It worries me how long the likes of Brett Lee will play and when was the last time exciting fast bowlers such as Shane Bond and Shoaib Akhtar had an injury-free run'

Itís an issue that has concerned me for some time and you only have to look at our current one-day series to gauge the affect it is having on the players. The tournament is missing Warne, Jason Gillespie, McGrath, Andy Bichel, Muralidharan, Darren Gough, Simon Jones, Steve Harmison, Ashley Giles, Craig White and Andrew Flintoff, which can only be detrimental to the game.

During these triangular tournaments, we play one day, travel the next to a different time zone feeling mentally and physically fatigued, but the following day we are on the field again playing. It just wouldnít happen in any other sport.

The situation has been exacerbated by the pace at which one-day and Test cricket is now played. Australia score runs at an incredible rate, which leaves their bowlers with little time to rest between innings. What used to be 2.5 days off watching the likes of Mark Taylor and Geoff Marsh bat is now a day and a half before getting back out there trying to bowl teams out.

One-day cricket has always been played at a frenetic pace but now fielding has become such an essential part of the game that coaches and captains are asking players to dive around trying to save every boundary. We are now asking more from players than their primary skill and the upshot is that bowlers are being asked to risk injury by saving runs.

Players such as Warne, Bichel, Harmison and Jones have all been injured in the field on this trip. To tell them not to dive is a bit like telling Roy Keane not to go in to a 50-50 challenge and the days of letting a ball go through are gone.

The Australians are fortunate that they have such depth and can operate a rotation system. This weekend they have rested Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and Lee but Iím not sure that is the way as fans want to see the best players in action. The alternative, is to risk burnout for a teamís leading performers.

People had to wait to see the likes of Viv Richards and Ian Botham in action and that made them seem like bigger stars, but now you only have to turn on your television and somewhere in the world the greats are playing. That is in danger of devaluing the game.

This week we have been able to concentrate on cricketing issues following the decision of the ECBís management committee that we will travel to Harare for our opening World Cup match against Zimbabwe.

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