Ian Chappell, former Australian skipper believes that the life of a modern cricketer is becoming increasingly harder with the creation of bio-bubbles due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ian Chappell also cited the India-Australia Test series on how the hosts got worn out in the bowling department while India somehow managed to stay fresh even when they were being hampered by injuries.
Ian Chappell: In The Last India-Australia Test Series, Australia Fielded Same Pace Trio Who Wore Down In The Later Stages
Former Australian captain Ian Chappell has opined that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the skillset and mental health of cricketers as they are forced to spend ‘extended periods’ in the bio-secure bubbles. He also mentioned that the pandemic has impacted the scheduling of Test matches as well, which has been a grind for the fast bowlers.
“The modern cricketer is substantially better rewarded than players of the previous century. However, like with all such things in life, there is a downside involved. This comes in the form of the numerous adjustments to be made because of the extra formats that are now played and the resultant crowding of the schedule,” Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.
“This was highlighted in the last Australia-India series, where the home side used the same fast-bowling trio in all four Tests. As the Australian pace bowlers wore down in the final stages of the series, their Indian counterparts may have caught a break as injuries meant they had to constantly change personnel.
“India is one of the few teams who have enough skilled quick bowlers in reserve to meet the challenges of the schedule and still remain competitive,” he added.
Talking about the effect Covid-19 has had on players and international cricket, Ian Chappell said: “The Covid-ravaged world has meant cricketers spend extended periods in bubbles, which challenges their skills and their mental health.
“It has also resulted in scheduling that has Test matches crammed together, which is physically and mentally demanding, especially for the fast bowlers.”
“Modern fast bowlers do a lot of varied training in order to prepare for the demands of constant cricket, but still the injuries continue to pile up. Fast bowlers in the past concentrated more on running and bowling a lot in the nets to gain their match fitness,” Ian Chappell added.
The COVID-19 restrictions and regulations have allowed touring teams to name larger contingents than before. Bizarre as it may seem, this unexpectedly worked in India’s favour when it came to finding emergency replacements during the injury crisis through the series.
The selectors wisely sent net bowlers to travel with the team. Reserve players like T. Natarajan and Washington Sundar were handed unexpected Test debuts and both made important contributions in the decisive Brisbane Test. Mohammed Siraj ended the 2020/21 Border Gavaskar Trophy as India’s highest wicket-taker, with 13 wickets in three Tests. The Indian bowler took a five-wicket haul in the final innings of the Brisbane Test, claiming the first fifer of his Test career.
With regular captain Virat Kohli leaving the tour midway – due to paternity leave – after the first Test in Adelaide, the onus rested on the shoulders of other senior stars in the Indian camp. But, destiny had some other plans as the likes of Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and KL Rahul – all suffered various injuries and failed to play all the matches. The scale of injuries can be gauged from the fact that India has played with 20 members of the squad in the ongoing series, something which has never happened before.
Ian Chappell: Interesting To Discover If Retired Cricketers Envied Rewards Paid To Modern Cricketers
The former Australia skipper also wondered whether retired players would want to earn the same rewards as the current crop of cricketers does or whether it is now the current players missing being part of a different era.
“It would be interesting to discover if retired cricketers envied the rewards paid their modern counterparts or whether current players would swap today’s whirling merry-go-round for the casual approach of the past. I suspect most international cricketers are just happy to have played,” said Ian Chappell.
Australia’s injury worries were no match to India’s, yet their frontline attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, and Nathan Lyon was unable to blow a depleted Indian XI away after the Adelaide Test. While Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood combined to take 38 wickets in the series, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc managed only 20 wickets in total.
Mitchell Starc failed to deliver his famed yorkers and at times lacked control, allowing India easy boundaries to release the pressure. Nathan Lyon was cleverly negated by the Indian batsmen and wasn’t a big threat on wearing fifth-day pitches. Australia ended up relying on two bowlers primarily and the fifth bowler was under-utilized.