Friday, May 18, 2007

Platooning international cricketers

The pressure of relentless international cricket is producing physical exhaustion and mental burnout - but I don't believe that the situation will significantly improve so long as the consumer demand for international cricket continues to grow (especially the demand of TV).

Speaking personally, I would like to have the opportunity to watch international cricket every day of the year.

The obvious solution is platooning of players - in other words there should be more than one player for each position - we should stop thinking of a cricket team as eleven players, and begin to think of the team as a squad of about 15 plus players who rotate.

Australia sometimes do this for one day cricket - I think everyone will soon be doing it for all forms of cricket.

The first place this will need to be done for quick bowling. Instead of choosing from four seamers, teams will choose from six or eight seamers; and the best will not always be picked but various combinations will be trained together (especially in fielding) and rotated in position.

For example a fast but wayward young quick (eg. Saj Mahmood), might be paired to open with a reliable old salt (eg. John Lewis).

Wicket keeping is another candidate, since it is probably too exhausting to keep wicket in back-to-back tests.

But platooning will particularly apply to foreign touring. I can't think of any other area of life (except maybe the armed forces) in which people are required to go abroad for such long periods of relentless work. The answer is to rotate players throughout tours.

Fans will just have to get used to seeing second best players as first choice for teams. Because over-time a team mixing first and second choices ought to perfom better than a team which always tries to filed its eleven best players.