Is too much cricket really never enough?

With all this media blather about over-worked cricket, I might as well put in my 0.02 cents.

Look, in one sense, it’s a bit rich for cricketers to complain that they are over-worked. Yes, Australia have played eleven Test matches and 18 ODI’s since October, but it is April, now. That is 70 odd days work in six months. Hardly the most onerous of work loads. And Australia have got a few extra days off in that lot by defeating opponents in Test matches in pretty short order. And they get paid literally millions. And they get the best groupies, as you might have noticed if you watch the Allan Border Medal night. So, you know, it’s not that hard a life being an international cricketer.

But on another level, it IS hard work. Adam Gilchrist is not only a fine keeper, passable stand-in captain, mighty batting hero and all round good guy, but he’s usually quite particular about his appearance. I’m not accusing him of being a metrosexual or a wannabe David Beckham, he’s just normally a neat and tidy guy. But in the First Test, he gave a fair impression that he was dressing like a flood victim. Overdue for a shave, too. Miss Zainub would NOT have approved.

Because it is what they are doing on those days off that really tells on the players. English domestic cricket is far more demanding because you are playing cricket day in, day out for months on end. However it takes far less of a toll on the players because they don’t have to travel nearly as much. For a player in a midlands county, away games are just a shire away. None of this intercontinental travel stuff. If you are playing for Derbyshire, half your away games are in driving distance. I’ve had daily commutes longer then the distance between Headingley and Old Trafford.

But for the international cricketer, it is a way bit tougher then that. The cricket is more intense, the pressure higher, the distances are further, and the time away from family is more crushing. Away from the field the temptations and distractions of fame slowly become a burden, the aches and pains dull the senses and it is a wonder that players stay as switched on as they do.

I’m not sure the current surfeit of international Test cricket is entirely good for the fans either. I think something is lost from the anticipation point of view, and that takes away something of the ‘specialness’ of the occasion. Test Cricket, like caviar, should not be indulged in every week of the year. It isn’t good for the players or the fans. When the players identify with Bob Segar, we know we have a problem

Ponting’s humour failure

I think Ricky Ponting is an amazing batsman, an astonishing fieldsman, and a so-so captain. Further evidence that he lacks in maturity is his over-reaction to some gentle fun poked by Phil Tufnell during the Allan Border Medal award night on Monday.

Ponting comes from a pretty tough background, and lacks a certain social polish. It’s not easy to know what to do in certain situations, and since I come from a coarse background myself, I can sympathise with Ponting here. And my advice would have been, lighten up, smile, say nothing, and make a note for later on.

It’s the things I never say that never get me into trouble.

I agree with Ponting’s point that an Australian award night might not have been the best place to give an Englishman free reign to gloat. But when you are lumped with this stuff, sometimes you just have to take it.

Allan Border Medal stuff

Australia has an annual awards night, which is basically an excuse to make the players get dressed up in tuxedos, show off their girlfriends, and tell themselves how wonderful they are.

Anyway this year, Ricky Ponting got the Allan Border Medal for the best cricketer of the year, Shane Warne got Test cricketer of the year, and Michael Hussey got Best limited overs player of the year.

It’s broadcast on television here, although it isn’t my cup of tea so I watched a DVD movie instead. The most interesting thing in the media coverage was Warne saying he might play till he is 40. That means he might still go to England in 2009. Good stuff!