Get on and play, Gavaskar tells cricket burnouts

Published: Tuesday, April 18, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Indian great Sunil Gavaskar scoffed at suggestions excessive cricket was burning players out, saying the hard grind was part of the honour of representing one's country.

Gavaskar, who now heads the powerful cricket committee of the sport's world governing body, said he was shocked at players complaining of the gruelling international schedule.

"I can't see the problem, these players are turning out for their countries, it's an honour to represent your country," Gavaskar said on a television programme Tuesday.

"I would be willing to sweat 365 days in a year for India. Those who can't stand the heat should stay out."

Federation of International Cricketers Association (FICA) president Tim May has mentioned the possibility of a players' strike if the International Cricket Council (ICC) fails to change the cramped schedule.

May, a former Australian off-spinner, said his dealings with the ICC were bordering on a joke.

"We're frustrated, we're concerned, we're disappointed the ICC and the member countries aren't abiding by principles that are supposed to be abided by in the scheduling of tours," May told Australia's The Sun-Herald newspaper earlier this week.

"It's a revenue-raising frenzy. It's pushing the players into a position where they're just going to say, 'No, it's too much, we're walking away from this, we're not going to play in these games'."

May reacted after world champions Australia went into a Test series in Bangladesh less than a week after ending a gruelling tour of South Africa and struggled to beat the minnows in the first Test in Fatullah.

Exhausted Australian fast bowler Brett Lee said after the match he was "running on fumes".

India's obsession with lucrative one-day cricket sees Rahul Dravid's men play two matches against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi later on Tuesday and Wednesday, just three days after ending a seven-game series against England at home.

Since August, the Indians have played 32 one-dayers - an average of nearly one a week - in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and far-flung venues in their own country.

This was in addition to two Test matches in Zimbabwe, three each against Sri Lanka and England at home and three more in Pakistan.

Only Sri Lanka have had more one-dayers in the same period - a staggering 36. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have played 22 each, Pakistan 13, England 11 and the West Indies nine.

India will have a month off before touring the West Indies for four Tests and five one-dayers, Australia will rest for three months after the Bangladesh tour while England go straight into their domestic season.

May said the players would be drained by the time the World Cup begins in the Caribbean next March.

"Guys start going through the motions," he said. "Their bodies are extremely fatigued. They just can't keep doing it.

"Some players are already making a stand. Shane Warne only plays one form of the game. Brian Lara is becoming very selective in the tours he goes on and the forms he plays.

"Shahid Afridi isn't playing Tests because he says the amount Pakistan are playing is ridiculous. He's taken a brave step and, quite frankly, it's a step countless players are contemplating.

"If that's good for the game, I'm in the wrong business."

Gavaskar, now 56, played 125 Tests and 108 one-dayers during a 16-year career which ended in 1987.

The ICC has suggested that teams should be restricted to playing between 12 and 15 Tests and 30 one-dayers in a calendar year.

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