India continue to field same faces as schedule takes its toll on England, Australia | cricket | Hindustan Times
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India continue to field same faces as schedule takes its toll on England, Australia

Virat Kohli and many India teammates play all three formats but Australia have split the Test and T20 sides with England also picking limited-overs specialists.

cricket Updated: Feb 20, 2018 09:31 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Johannesburg
The Indian cricket team has earlier complained about the cramped cricket calender ahead of their tour of South Africa.
The Indian cricket team has earlier complained about the cramped cricket calender ahead of their tour of South Africa.(AFP)

While India seem unperturbed and are happy fielding mostly the same players across formats on this tour, other top teams seem to be feeling the effect of tight schedules. The way forward for most teams, it appears, is splitting teams for Tests and T20s.

England and Australia are showing the way with the latter fielding separate teams that are playing in different places.

READ | Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s pace change shows South Africa’s short-ball tactics flawed

For the second consecutive year, an Australian team is playing T20s at home while the Test team is on tour abroad.

Australia skipper Steve Smith made it clear on landing in South Africa for the Test series: “In an ideal world, we would have liked no clashes. Sometimes it is tough for the schedules.”

WARNER’S WORRIES

Australia opener David Warner too has said it is getting very tough playing all formats. England’s Australian coach Trevor Bayliss wants T20 Internationals to be scrapped altogether except in the final build-up to World T20s as players anyway play a lot of franchise matches in the format.

Tony Irish, executive chairman of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (FICA), says burnout and injuries are related to the overall structure of the game.

READ | David Warner admits burnout, calls for longer gaps between tournaments

“The best players want to play in all formats, whether it is AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli or Steve Smith. However, the authorities handling international cricket need to come up with a better structure. We have been lobbying for better international structure to get window for the league,” he said.

For the first time, there is a window for the coming Indian Premier League (IPL) in April-May.

LEAGUE AHEAD

Irish feels the way the game is going, soon players could dump international cricket and focus only on the lucrative T20 leagues.

“We need window for leagues and better have leagues compete with each other than with international cricket.”

For India, though, it has been about managing the workload and injuries just to ensure they have the best players for all formats.

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Skipper Virat Kohli, among the fittest cricketers in the world who has shouldered a heavy batting burden, felt some strain during the first T20 in Johannesburg on Sunday.

He quickly went off the field to avoid aggravating the injury.

“The injury was early on in the innings. It was in the glutes, while taking a single. Thankfully it wasn’t a hamstring. So, I went off before I would tear a muscle,” he said after the match.

REST PAYS OFF

Man-of-the-Match Bhuvneshwar Kumar was rested for the last ODI, and bounced back with a sensational five-wicket haul in the T20 win.

The pace bowler acknowledged the decision to rest him, saying it was important with so much cricket played.

“It (success) comes with fitness. It is not easy playing all three formats, especially on a single tour. So, what I wanted to do before coming here was manage the workload. I wanted to practice but in a specific way, so as to not put extra pressure on the body,” Bhuvneshwar said after claiming 5/24.

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It will be interesting to see if India follow England and Australia and rest the top players. They have a T20 tri-series next followed by IPL, a one-off Test against Afghanistan and then the tough tour of England that comprises limited-overs matches followed by Tests.

But with Virat Kohli leading the way, there is unlikely to be any let-up, at least in the near future.