Two Australian cricket teams on the same day? Ridiculous right?

Michael Mills Roar Rookie

By Michael Mills, Michael Mills is a Roar Rookie

31 Have your say

    Tonight, Australia will close the international cricket summer with a Twenty20 International against the West Indies at Brisbane.

    However, thanks to the unwieldy and, at times, bewildering scheduling that has highlighted this summer, the team selected will be far from a first-choice side.

    In fact, it won’t even be the only Australian side playing today. Around the same time the Australian Twenty20 team is starting its match in the evening, an Australian XI will be in the final stages of a two-day match against an Indian President’s XI in Chennai – the first match of Australia’s six-week tour of India.

    Thanks to Cricket Australia’s scheduling of a five-match ODI series against the West Indies that overlaps a tour to India, the Test squad has been departing to the subcontinent in dribs and drabs.

    So neither team will feature Michael Clarke, David Warner, Shane Watson, Mitchell Starc, or Phil Hughes, who are all likely to be part of the first-choice side.

    The team playing the Indian President’s XI is made up of the only 11 players who were actually in India at the time the match began. Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade is skippering a team with two specialist batsman, three all rounders and five bowlers.

    One of the team isn’t even an official playing member of the squad. Nineteen-year-old Western Australia spinner Ashton Agar is playing after heading over to act as a net bowler. He only made his First-class debut less than a month ago.

    The team’s masseur, Grant Baldwin, is the 12th man.

    Normally, this would all be gobsmacking for most of the Australian cricket public. These days however, with one bizarre decision following the other, it will probably met with a bemused shrug of the shoulders – maybe even some eye rolling.

    Of course, it’s rare for two separate Australian cricket teams play on the same day.

    Discounting the handful of Australia v Australia ‘A’ matches in the mid-90s, you have to stretch back more than 35 years to find the most significant instance of two ‘senior’ Australian sides playing on the same day.

    The specific date is 2 December 1977: the opening day of World Series Cricket. WSC Australia took on WSC West Indies in a Supertest at VFL Park, Melbourne. At the same time, around 1600 kilometres away at the ‘Gabba, an ‘establishment’ Australian team was commencing a Test match against India, with 41-year-old Bob Simpson as captain.

    That was the result of a deep schism within the game that is still the most influential event in cricket history. The current circumstance is entirely self-inflicted.

    However, it could very well be something we will have to get used to. The modern approach to scheduling, combined with the ‘informed player management’ doctrine adopted by the Australian selection panel, means we are now likely to see matches, as News Limited’s Malcolm Conn said, with an Australian team, not the Australian team.

    Over the course of this summer, a total of 34 players have been selected in international matches. This could rise to 36 depending on who is selected tonight.

    There has been a large amount of criticism directed at Cricket Australia this summer by fans, journalists and former players.

    John Inverarity has been the chief target for the disgruntled. Rotating players has some, but many are of the opinion that the rotations are now spinning out of control.

    Commentators such as Conn, Robert Craddock and Phil Rothfield have decried this, saying the ticket holders are being short changed. The lacklustre crowds at many fixtures this season were cited as evidence.

    Inverarity points out though, with some justification, that the scheduling of matches now necessitates player management. Players simply cannot participate in every match on the calendar.

    He has a point. Today’s international players must juggle commitments for the entire year: international cricket, domestic cricket and the myriad of lucrative Twenty20 competitions. Furthermore, they have to adjust techniques and training to adapt to three different formats of cricket.

    At best, this can impact a player’s form. At worst, it can impact their career. Promising speedster Pat Cummins rubbed himself out of this summer during the Champions League after his Twenty20 bowling action’ caused a stress fracture in his back.

    He was the first in a long line of injured cricketers who have missed at least part of the summer. First the fast bowlers were stricken. Now the batsmen are struggling with their hamstrings.

    On the other hand, former Test fast bowler turned Fast bowler Geoff Lawson believes players, particularly fast bowlers, are not playing enough. Their bodies aren’t hardened by repetition in match situations.

    Whoever is right, players are still getting injured, the crowds are still dwindling and the scheduling still invites ridicule.

    One consideration that hasn’t been discussed to any great length is not the volume of matches, but the time in between.

    Thanks to the addition of the ICC World Twenty20 Championship, the Champions League and tournaments such as the Indian Premier League and the Big Bash League, players are now spending a lot more time travelling to their next match – time that could have been spent recovering from the previous one.

    Former Australian physical performance manager Jock Campbell raised this only last week on ninemsn, adding that the regular flights were also having a detrimental affect.

    “Our cricketers are being forced onto the park five times in 10 days, which means they’re also being forced to fly on six occasions,” he said. “Add to that the Allan Border Medal in Melbourne, just a day after the second ODI in Perth, and you can easily see why the players may be more than a little fatigued.

    “It’s time the discussion over injuries turned to the one area that can be controlled and it’s clear that whoever is in control of the cricket calendar has little regard for player wellbeing and performance.

    “Who is actually in charge of scheduling? What are their credentials and why do they continually schedule close ODI matches and back-to-back Tests when the medical evidence points to an increased risk of injury and performance?”

    According to Campbell, Cricket Australia’s statistics show that the risk of injury rises up to 87 per cent when players are involved in back-to-back Tests. His time with CA finished in 2005, but even back then he presented research on the detrimental effects of jet lag on performance and recovery.

    From this, a potential solution emerges. If you schedule less matches will adequate recovery time in between, you will not need to rotate players as much. That way, the public will also be guaranteed the best team possible.

    With less matches on the schedule and the best team on the park, it stands to reason that each fixture will be that bit more significant. It also seems logical that fans will not be as less jaded than they obviously have been with this summer’s 10 ODIs. Surely full houses at three to five ODIs is better than well-below average crowds across 10.

    It would also mean that the international players would be available for the Big Bash, making those matches more attractive. Furthermore, the Big Bash could be held back until January, so the Sheffield Shield would be active will the Test series are being played.

    The intricacies of fixture scheduling are undoubtedly complex and there may be many valid reasons why the above is impossible. But, given the current state of affairs, it is certainly not a ridiculous suggestion.

    Not as ridiculous as two Australian teams playing on the same day, anyway.

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    The Crowd Says (31)

    • February 13th 2013 @ 3:33pm
      Pope Paul VII said | February 13th 2013 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

      That’s nothing. In 1930 England played test matches against New Zealand in New Zealand and West Indies in the West Indies, at the same time!

      Go Grant Baldwin, hope he gets a catch and a run out.

      • February 13th 2013 @ 6:10pm
        JohnB said | February 13th 2013 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

        What I was going to say Pope!

        Both were 4 match series. The first and third tests of each series overlapped, so that England was playing 2 tests on the same days (if not at exactly the same time because of time differences) in different parts of the world.

        There’s nothing new under the sun.

      • February 13th 2013 @ 9:56pm
        Cugel said | February 13th 2013 @ 9:56pm | ! Report

        They’d also played a Test in SA, two days before starting one in Oz, in March 1892. Before the concept of Tests had been defined though.

        • February 13th 2013 @ 11:40pm
          pope paul v11 said | February 13th 2013 @ 11:40pm | ! Report

          Strewth Cugel That’s numberwang!

          • February 14th 2013 @ 12:46pm
            JohnB said | February 14th 2013 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

            Certainly is. Hadn’t been aware of that one – England won both games by an innings incidentally. Both teams were much more like private ventures than modern day national teams, although of the two the team in SA was very much the second eleven. They played only the one test on tour and for 6 of that team it was their only test (as it was for 8 of the South Africans). Two of the others in the English team had actually starred in tests for Australia previously and this was their only test for England.

            • February 14th 2013 @ 4:13pm
              Cugel said | February 14th 2013 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

              I see Bearded says “circa 1890” for the first list, which actually pre-dates these tours. But what the criteria was to be included in the early years afterward, I’m not sure.

              • February 14th 2013 @ 6:51pm
                JohnB said | February 14th 2013 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

                An “Ask Steven” in Cricinfo
                suggests 1894 for Aust v England games and 1907 for Sth Afriica. I’m not sure what happened in 1907 (an “Imperial Cricket Conference” perhaps) and certainly don’t know what criteria they used.

                Not unheard of in rugby over the years either – NZ famously also had a team in SA when Australia won the Bledisloe Cup in 1949 (although that particular asterisk doesn’t get emphasised too much in Australia). Aust also counts games against NZ Maori as tests. NZ I think had a tour to Argentina playing tests at about the same time as another test tour was going on, in the 1980s.

    • Roar Rookie

      February 13th 2013 @ 3:51pm
      The_Big_Big_Show said | February 13th 2013 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

      What a disgrace but as said above i seriously hope the Physio has to field. Brilliant stories for generations to come as long as this doesn’t occur again. The decision makers in australian cricket are seriously having their worst summer to date, but problem is these decisions were made along time ago. I don’t have enough fingers to point the blame.

      • February 16th 2013 @ 12:18pm
        nicole said | February 16th 2013 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

        My 9yo son has plans to be a test cricketer for aus. am now suggesting he study physiotherapy and increase his chances of getting a game.

    • February 13th 2013 @ 4:10pm
      tommy said | February 13th 2013 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

      In the knowledge that our best players would need to be in Indian to prepare the the test tour, this T20 & the last 2 One Dayers should never have been scheduled. It cheapens the value of an Australian Cap, it is taking the piss with spectators & is just plain greedy. Cricket Australia & James Sutherland in particular, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

    • February 13th 2013 @ 4:45pm
      Atawhai Drive said | February 13th 2013 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

      Why should there be any connection whatsoever between the Australian Test team and the T20 team?

      As someone else has said elsewhere today, we don’t expect to see any overlap in rugby between the Wallabies and the national Sevens team. The occasional Sevens player might graduate to 15s, but the teams go their separate ways.

      In cricket, a T20 player might eventually make the step up in class to Test cricket. But Test cricket and T20 are different. Or to put it another way, T20 is Sevens to Test cricket’s 15s.

      I won’t watch tonight’s T20 match. But then I wouldn’t have watched it no matter who was playing. Why have T20 internationals at all?

      • February 13th 2013 @ 5:00pm
        Michael Mills said | February 13th 2013 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

        That is a fair point. Perhaps it would be better if the T20 team was run like the rugby sevens team. However, at the moment that isn’t the case. David Warner and Shane Watson – and probably Mitchell Starc – are both in the best XI for both formats. They aren’t playing in either match.

        The real question is why did Cricket Australia allow this fixture clash to happen at all? In one stroke, they’ve managed to both compromise the preparation of the Test team and pick a substandard team for a home match that people have paid good money for. Meanwhile a chuck of the country’s best players aren’t even playing any cricket at all.

        I would suggest that if the West Indies series didn’t happen, the entire Test squad could have been in India last week.

        • February 14th 2013 @ 5:15am
          AndyMack said | February 14th 2013 @ 5:15am | ! Report

          Agree, Watson, Warner and Starc are the only three players i would have had in the 20/20 game against the WI. If they are not playing that game, why are they not playing an extra warm up game in India??

          • February 14th 2013 @ 10:45am
            Matt F said | February 14th 2013 @ 10:45am | ! Report

            Watson and Starc both only arrived in India two days ago so they probably decided to give them a few days off and play them in the next warm up match which starts on Saturday. That’s the last warm up game and it would probably be a bit much to have them play a T20 in Brisbane on Wednesday night, fly to India on Thursday then play on Saturday. Warner is injured

            • February 15th 2013 @ 12:06am
              Michael Mills said | February 15th 2013 @ 12:06am | ! Report

              It certainly would have been a tough for them to play a T20 and then fly over to India.

              So why was this scheduling conflict that allowed to happen? Either the West Indies series doesn’t happen at all and the whole team leaves together, or the Indian tour starts later so the majority of the squad can get the ideal preparation.

        • February 14th 2013 @ 2:31pm
          matt h said | February 14th 2013 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

          I’m pretty sure in my vague memory that a few 15s rugby players also played in the big sevens tournaments in the early days before 7’s got much more serious and specialised. The same may possibly happen in t20 at least for a little while. Seperate T20 squads may well end up being the norm for Australia, England SA and India were there is sufficient depth of players.

          I’m not necessarily against it. The low crowd at the Gabba (I was there) could have been as much to do with fatigue as to the number of games, with WI being the third international team this summer, and also they had lost every game so far. Also pre the big bash, most punters paid their hard earned only to go to the international matches. Now they might take in a few Brisbane Heat matches instead.

          I think our “second string” side was fairly competative and was let down mostly by team balance. They needed a spinner.

    • February 13th 2013 @ 4:54pm
      Johnno said | February 13th 2013 @ 4:54pm | ! Report

      Guys rotation is here to stay , get over it.

      The 60’s were the beetles, the stones, rock n roll, man on the moon , JFK and Castro. They are are over.

      The 70’s was retro porn, free love, peace, vietnam war, woodstock. The 70’s are over.

      The 80’s was shoulder pads, Video killed the radio star, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and the cold war ending. They are over.

      The 90’s was boybands, and the Micheal Jordan. They are over

      And the new millennium, is ipad’s, iphones, i this and that, twitter, and rotation, ,. And it’s not over its just beginning.

      • February 13th 2013 @ 5:08pm
        Michael Mills said | February 13th 2013 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

        I don’t mind rotating a few players here and there to prevent injuries and build squad depth.

        This is not rotation though. This is a bad situation that Cricket Australia is now trying to make the best of.

      • February 13th 2013 @ 7:21pm
        pope paul v11 said | February 13th 2013 @ 7:21pm | ! Report

        Johnno you are a classic.

        Incidentially Woodstock was 69


        Retro 70s porn during the 70s, too funny

        keep them coming

        • February 14th 2013 @ 5:17am
          AndyMack said | February 14th 2013 @ 5:17am | ! Report

          haha, i love how in the 70’s they loved 70’s retro porn. Good spot Pope.

    • February 13th 2013 @ 5:27pm
      Jay said | February 13th 2013 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

      Regardless of how ordinary the West Indies have been this tour, I hope they tell CA to jam it and refuse to come back for a long time. I can’t begin to articulate just how rude and shabby this treatment is of a visiting team by having this scheduling confilict. If this is a precedent why should any team bother coming over.

      • Roar Guru

        February 13th 2013 @ 6:17pm
        Andy_Roo said | February 13th 2013 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

        Jay the simple answer is that the West Indies will keep coming for one reason only.Money