How much cricket is too much cricket? That’s the question not only on the players’ minds and also the fans’.
Let’s talk about the players first. Indian’s players have been playing non-stop cricket since the last IPL which started in September 2020 in the UAE. The IPL finished in October and the players went for a long series in Australia where they had three T20s, three ODIs and four Tests.
The series ended in January. As soon as they finished the tour, India played four Test matches and five T20s against England, which went on until end of March. Within a week’s time the Indian Premier League began in India. However, due to the pandemic only 29 matches were played and the tournament had to be suspended, which gave the players two weeks off before they left for England to first play the World Test Championship finals against in New Zealand in June, followed by four back-to-back Test matches against the hosts.
The fifth Test did not happen because of a few cases of Covid in the India support staff ranks. India players came straight back from England to the UAE to finish the remaining matches of the IPL which finished on October 15. As soon as the IPL ended, the T20 World Cup began. It only ended on November 14. Within three days of the World Cup final, the India v New Zealand series begins, which includes three T20s and two Test matches.
All these cricket matches Indian have played have been all in biosecure environments or a secured ‘bubble’ where players have limited freedom. It’s mainly hotel to ground and ground to hotel and maybe to some restaurants where you are not in touch with the outside world. This is ridiculously tough on anyone. Yes, the Indian players are paid well but playing non-stop cricket for 15 months does take its toll on physical and mental health. As Rohit Sharma said, players are not machines, they are human bodies and they will eventually break down if they are not given proper break after every long series.
Big players such as Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Rohit Sharma can definitely ask the board for a break and get it as their place in the team is assured, but I’m not sure if the other players can take that call of opting out as there is so much talent in India, players fear of losing their place if they take break and some other player grabs the opportunity and seals his place.
It’s time for the BCCI to take corrective measures to plan future tours so that players don’t get fatigued and get enough rest mentally and physically.
Similarly, for the fans, how much cricket would they watch and enjoy? Yes, the World Cup is once every four years, but non-stop cricket does take away the interest, as anything in excess puts you off. Fans are bound to lose interest.
The next T20 World Cup is just 11 months away and before that is the IPL and India tours of South Africa and West Indies. I’m not sure if there is a window of rest either for the players or the fans.