It's well know that India’s top cricketers have a punishing schedule. But what they will soon be subjected to is extreme even by those standards.
<b1>Sample this. India, touring Zimbabwe, play their second and last Twenty20 match in Harare on June 13. Two T20 games against the hosts come at the end of a tri-series also involving Sri Lanka.
On June 16, they kick off their Asia Cup campaign with a one-day international against Bangladesh in Dambulla, Sri Lanka.
As things stand, the Indian team will probably fly out of Zimbabwe on June 14, spend over 24 of the 48 hours between the games on different flights or at airports and then take a long road journey before reaching their destination.
“There’s no direct flight from Harare to Sri Lanka. The team first needs to reach Johannesburg, from where they can take a flight to Colombo via Dubai or Doha,” said Kamna, a travel executive with the Air Travel Bureau.
To make matters worse, the team will then need to cover almost 150 km from Colombo to Dambulla by road..
To make matters worse, the team will need to cover almost 150 km from Colombo to Dambulla by road, an approximately four-hour journey.
Md Aslam Goni, the North Zone representative on the Tours committee, wasn’t even aware of India’s travel plans. “I’m not sure whether or not they are touring Zimbabwe,” he said.
BCCI secretary N Srinivasan, the convenor of the committee, said, “The practicality of such issues will be seen and handled appropriately,” he said from Kodaikanal, where he is on holiday. “This isn’t a one-off. Players have been going through this gruelling schedule right from the start of the IPL.”
After flying almost every third day during the 45-day carnival, at least five players who played the IPL final on April 25 — Dhoni, Raina, Harbhajan, Zaheer and Vijay — had under 48 hours to recharge before leaving for the West Indies on Tuesday night. That was another 30-hour journey, first from Mumbai to Dubai, Dubai to London, then changing from Heathrow to Gatwick, then the nine-hour journey to St. Lucia.
Although the BCCI maintains players can pull out whenever they feel the need for rest, but it’s not so easy. As is having a policy of rotation, promised years ago, but followed neither in thought nor action.
Apart from other things, there is pressure from broadcasters to field the best possible teams as the absence of the top players affect their TRPs.
“The selling of advertisement slots depend on TRPs that depends on the interest the event generates. If the top players aren’t playing, it affects the selling of slots,” said an industry source.
“It’s exhausting but we’re expected to be machines,” an India player told HT. “There’s no question of pulling out citing fatigue. In this set-up, the level of insecurity is high, barring a couple of players. If you do so, you will probably upset important people and no one wants to take a chance on that.”
Incidentally, the Tours, Programmes and Fixtures Committee is still to get a new chairman. It’s old one? Lalit Modi.