ICC launches research project on ~~burnout~~

Published: Saturday, July 8, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:The International Cricket Council (ICC) is to conduct research into the vexed question of player "burnout" after claims the current schedule of international matches is placing too great a burden on the game's leading players.

Federation of International Cricketers' Association (FICA) chief Tim May, the former Australia off-spinner, recently raised the spectre of players taking performance-enhancing drugs in order to keep themselves going between matches.

But his fellow Australian Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, insisted the workload of top cricketers was not as demanding as many thought.

"Two words that concern some of our stakeholders are 'burnout' and 'saturation'," Speed said. "They are highly emotive words (and) they are too often used in the absence of facts and evidence.

"Many of the game's top players are playing fewer cricket matches than their predecessors while international cricket is in greater public and commercial demand than ever.

"It is time some proper research is undertaken into these two often-raised but little-understood areas (and) I am pleased to say that this week our members mandated ICC to begin a comprehensive research project in this area."

Although the terms of reference of the research project are yet to be determined, it is likely it will compare player workloads over eras, as well as assessing injury trends.

Meanwhile Speed, speaking at the ICC's business forum at Lord's on Friday, also responded to criticism of the recently-adopted six-year Future Tours Program (FTP) which aims to structure the schedule of international cricket.

"Let me say that the FTP is fundamentally good for the game.

"Far from being concerned about the excessive volume of cricket being played by our members, we believe many of them should be looking for opportunities to program more cricket.

"New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh all have fewer than 55 Test matches scheduled over the next six years and South Africa and the West Indies's annual schedules of Test cricket only hit double figures three and four times respectively.

"When the schedules of our members are looked at over the course of the forthcoming six years, only three teams ever come close to reaching the players' recommended upper limit (of 15 Tests and 30 ODIs in a 12-month period) - Australia, England and India.

"Of those three, Cricket Australia, whose players are currently on a five-month break, and the England and Wales Cricket Board both have formal agreements with their player groups concerning the volume of cricket they play and both have consistently honoured those agreements.

"And the Board of Control for Cricket in India, which has more cricket scheduled than anyone else, has regularly assured us their schedule has the full support of their player group."

Speed said individual national boards bore the main responsibility for managing player workloads.

"They need to balance the demands of player workload with public and commercial interest.

"The directive we have given to our members is that in instances where they are considering adding to the current schedule, they should do so in consultation with their elite player."

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