Less than two weeks before Australia kick start their home season, an intense wage negotiation, as well as a scrutinized debate over players' workloads, have been hogging the country’s cricket scene. Cricket Australia’s (CA) chief executive James Sutherland has responded to Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) consultant Simon Katich’s concerns emanating from the packed international schedule by pointing out the leading players’ participation in the IPL which runs for over six weeks every year.
Sutherland claimed, “It’s interesting to hear those comments coming from the players association. But at the same, players do choose. In a six-week window in the middle of the year when they are technically on holidays, they do choose to play in India in the Indian Premier League. So it’s one thing to be criticising us for that, but it’s another thing. There’s a different side to that coin, I guess.”
Katich, a former cricketer with 56 Test and 45 ODI caps to his name, had criticized the decision to rest key personnel such as Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood for the ODI series in South Africa during which they were blanked 0-5 by the Proteas. Several of the top Aussie stars have reportedly expressed their apprehensions with the unforgiving present day calendar at a time when ACA are due to start discussions surrounding the next agreement.
Speaking to News Ltd, the left-hander had argued, “When there is so much cricket being played that you are handing out caps left, right and center, it send a bad message. It means the relevance of the Australian team is in jeopardy especially with the prospect of two different Australian teams playing at the same time in different spots in the world next year. You would have to think that fans would feel short changed. If that becomes the norm for the public to be witnessing that, it can’t be a good thing.”
His comments carry significant weight as the schedule for Australia’s tour of India next year revealed that the Test series will start a day after the third T20I against Sri Lanka in Adelaide. While CA has always prioritized Test cricket over the limited-overs formats, the hectic calendar leaves them with no choice but to leave quite a few of their regulars like skipper Steve Smith, David Warner and Starc from the T20I series at home.
However, Sutherland played down the concerns by noting, “Scheduling is something that cascades down a little bit where what happens here in Australia is very much a function of what happens at international level. And there's a lot of work being done at the moment to revamp the structure of international cricket to bring more context and relevance to matches. Those conversations are well advanced and I think there are some exciting things in the mix there that will be good for the game.”
While ICC are mulling a baseball style conference-based split system for Tests, distinct league structures for both ODIs and T20Is could also become a reality in the near future which may lend considerable balance to the international calendar.Published 21 Oct 2016, 23:53 IST