‘We will have to make sure guys are not blown out’: England captain Joe Root fears player burnout if the ECB try to squeeze more fixtures into hectic schedule this year
- England’s cricketers face a fixture pile-up caused by the coronavirus outbreak
- Test team are already looking to reschedule their two-match series in Sri Lanka
- Root’s men scheduled to face India, Pakistan and the West Indies this summer
- The T20 World Cup in Australia takes place from October 18 to November 15
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Joe Root has issued a warning about player burnout this winter as England’s cricketers face a fixture pile-up caused by the coronavirus.
The Test team are already looking to reschedule their two-match series in Sri Lanka after their tour was cut short earlier this month because of the pandemic.
A pair of three-game series this summer against West Indies and Pakistan may also be postponed.
Joe Root and his England team face a fixture pile-up caused by the coronavirus outbreak
And with the final of the ICC’s World Test Championship set for June 2021, the ECB will come under pressure to squeeze matches in later this year as England aim for a top-two finish. They currently sit fourth, behind runaway leaders India, Australia and New Zealand.
The West Indian board have already said they would host England’s ‘home’ series if the English season proves a non-starter.
But the T20 World Cup in Australia is not scheduled to finish until November 15, pushing a trip to the Caribbean back to December.
The rejigged Sri Lanka series would then have to be shoehorned in to early January, ahead of five gruelling Tests in India. That would still leave England v Pakistan.
The ECB have already ruled out any cricket being played before May 28 at the earliest
1st Test vs West Indies
June 12 – 16
2nd Test vs West Indies
June 25- 29
3rd Test vs West Indies
1st T20I vs Australia
2ns T20I vs Australia
3rd T20I vs Australia
1st ODI v Australia
2nd ODI vs Australia
3rd ODI vs Australia
July 30-August 3
1st Test vs Pakistan
2nd Test vs Pakistan
3rd Test vs Pakistan
1st T20I vs Pakistan
2nd T20I vs Pakistan
3rd T20I vs Pakistan
1st ODI vs Ireland
2nd ODI vs Ireland
3rd ODI vs Ireland
October 18-November 15
T20 World Cup (Australia)
‘It would be a very tough winter,’ said Root. ‘It would be a huge amount of workload on some of the players, especially the multi-format ones. It will be interesting to see how they can fit it in.
‘If it goes ahead that way, we will have to be able to adapt, and look at the size of squads we take over. We will have to make sure guys are not blown out or overworked throughout that period.’
It will all depend on how much cricket, if any, is played this summer, with Root admitting that a complete wipeout ‘has definitely crossed my mind’.
The England captain has been using the lockdown to keep fit on his exercise bike at home, and promote the work of Sheffield Children’s Hospital – a worthy distraction at a time when he should have been contesting the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
And while he knows that sporting considerations pale into insignificance beside a virus that has already claimed well over 30,000 lives around the world, he is understandably eager to get back on the park following England’s impressive 3-1 win in South Africa in February.
‘It is frustrating,’ said Root. ‘There are more important things to concern ourselves with but, from a cricketing point of view, we were preparing well for the two Test matches in Sri Lanka, and we made big strides in South Africa. It would have been nice to get those games in to test ourselves against a side on the rise.’
There are, though, silver linings. An enforced rest – the ECB have already ruled out any cricket until May 28 at the earliest – allows players to recharge their batteries, and for team management to spend even more planning the assault on the Ashes in 2021-22.
‘We can use this time to ready ourselves to do something special down there because we know how challenging it can be to play in Australia,’ said Root. ‘You look at some of the guys we’ve brought into the squad over the last year or so – we’ve been trying to add different elements that will work in those conditions.
‘Guys like Mark Wood and Olly Stone – and the fast-bowling contracts that have come in to encourage them to go out in county cricket and bowl as quick as they can. They add that X-factor to what is a talented and skilful bowling group.
‘It gives us that variety, which we might have lacked on previous tours. We saw in South Africa that it found us a way to take 20 wickets in foreign conditions. If we can keep putting experience into a number of the young batters as well, then we’re starting to build a team that has confidence and experience, and is ready and hardened for the challenges Australia will throw at us.’
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