Posted by: nestaquin | April 15, 2008

Money for Jam

Once more, our man in cosmopolitan downtown London, The Tooting Trumpet, enlightens the folk at 99.94 with his unique brand of sensible and critical analysis. This week he contemplates the effort and time our cricketing representatives have to spend to earn a not too insignificant crust.

A generation after Kerry Packer shook cricket to its foundations with World Series Cricket, the grand old game stands once more peering at a map of the future unsure of which road to take. The traditionalists counsel the road that moves through familiar territory with perhaps a few more brightly lit towns than we are used to: the entrepreneurs point to a destination that looks more like the Vegas Strip – all garish neon and money, money, money. But their road doesn’t look fully constructed and, like the Vegas Strip, their destination appears to be surrounded by desert. Only one thing is certain – staying put is not an option.

So, with the IPL due to start this month, it seems opportune to look at how much work a cricketer delivers in return for their pre-IPL era remuneration. Of course, contracts and playing schedules vary around the world and an exhaustive study is beyond the scope of this blog (though perhaps not this one). My analysis of the workload of an English county pro reveals a demanding, but not punitive, schedule for all but the fastest of fast men (and they don’t play county cricket).

Below I present Australia’s captain-elect and IPL refusenik (for understandable family reasons) Michael Clarke‘s workload in the period April 1 2007 – March 31 2008.

APRIL 6 74.3 235.1 309.4
MAY 0 0 0 0
JUNE 0 0 0 0
JULY 0 0 0 0
AUGUST 0 0 0 0
SEPTEMBER 3 0.5 59.1 60
OCTOBER 10 33.5 251.3 285.2
NOVEMBER 10 135.4 367 502.4
DECEMBER 7 85.2 235.5 321.1
JANUARY 14 148.2 631 779.2
FEBRUARY 8 140.4 337.5 478.3
MARCH 7 44.2 244.2 288.4
TOTAL 65 663.3 2361.5 3025.2

From this table, The Trumpet suggests that one of Australia’s most heavily worked cricketers is still able to get significant periods of time away from the game. Moreover, and this is the key issue for me, even what appears to be fairly intensive periods of cricket do not require extended time in the middle.

For example the closing three weeks of the World Cup in April 2007 (above) comprised six matches in 21 days, but entailed only 74.3 overs batting, 17 overs bowling and 235.1 overs in the field. Naturally, much of the spare time is spent practising (Clarke is Australian, not English, after all).

The Trumpet does concede that back-to-back Test matches are demanding, but outside of those, I tend to agree with the players who have signed to the IPL (and ICL). They can play more cricket.

Nesta’s Note: Toot’s supplied a far more extensive table of Pup Clarke’s cricketing year than would fit on this skinny page. If you’d like to peruse the full statistical analysis email 99.94 with a subject line that says “Stats Please” and it will be promptly and politely placed in your inbox.


  1. Toot’s, nice work..

    As always, it’s amazing how many complain of being overworked, yet when a million dollars is thrown in the hat, they seem to forget about that!
    I’m looking at you KP!

    They’re not down t’pit. They’re not cleaning offices from 5am til 6pm.
    I’d like to see cricketers gain a little perspective.

    If KP were to discover what some families in London have to do to survive, I’m sure it’d make him think, before opening up his big gob..

  2. They can play a lot more cricket if given the opportunity. The IPL experience should put the too much cricket argument to bed for a while.

    As the table above shows 65 days competitive cricket out of 366 is not too much.

    I reckon about 120 would be about the right number for a batsman and around 95 for a quick. Of course, it all depends on the individual’s fitness and desire.

    Perhaps someone could look into how many days cricket someone like MS Dhoni played in the same period. It would be an interesting comparison.

  3. I’ve always felt that the reason cricketers complain of workload is as much to do with sponsors’ days, being interviewed for ghosted columns, photoshoots etc.

    If T20 tournaments can be scheduled to replace some ODI tournaments and if the travel is minimised, I can see plenty of cricket being played without burn-out. It’s not that hard to bowl 4 overs, field the other 16 and bat for, what, 10 overs on average if you’re top order and in form. That’s a day’s work?

  4. The thing is, the year 2007/2008 has a skew to it that isn’t general in most years.. a long tour to Zimbabwe was in the sked straight after the Worlds ODI in 2007and then cancelled. Which I presume was well known to your correspondent, he being a promoted cricket buff, but not mentioned. That cancellation does make the Pup’s figures look a bit odd.

    Ditto 2008/2009… a long tour of Pakistan cancelled after a cricketing year started off with a Test series AU/Sri and then the usual Chappel/Hadlee thing then a Test series AU/IND and the CB comp ( thankfully finished forever ) of the at home and touring thing for AU which consists of a rather punishing 20 Tests plus the other stuff..

    But the Toots is spang on about the practise… you don’t get to the top and stay there without a hell of a lot of that dreary business. Those days are not optional for the AU X1, and there are plenty of them. Being in ‘top order and in form’ doesn’t come in a Weeties packet giveaway, it has to be worked for and maintained.

  5. mimi.. Grant is up and thrashing thru the water at 5am, but he’s back in bed by 10am for a morning snooze. Up again at 4pm for the evening stuff. A couple of hours eating carbohydrate is shoved in there somewhere.

    The ones who really do work hard at it are swimming parents, who shunt those kids around from pool to pool year in , year out at the most godawful hours in all weathers, THEY don’t go home and have the morning snooze, they have to get to work to pay the coaching fees, poor buggers. Hacket’s Mum got him a bike at one stage and he rode 15 klms in the dark to swim practice and home again for many years. No wonder those parents have lines on their dear little faces.

    And he did this in the shadow of Thorpe!!. .. ( that is, with no expectation of ever beating The Machine, only the odd fluke win)

  6. Pepp – I did think about investigating the detail of the cancelled tours etc, but that would have beyond the scope of the piece. In any case, I suggest that there is seldom a year that works out perfectly for a player: tours are cancelled or curtailed; injuries hit; loss of form; matches rested etc. My key point was borne out by the tables – there are longish periods of time off; there are days off between games (sometimes six at a time); during games, remarkably little time is spent “active”. And, come the rush to T20 and evening games, a schedule that sees say four T20 matches per week with a playing day starting at 2.30pm for warm-up, 4.30pm, 16 overs fielding and 4 overs bowling, then a bit of batting, shower and hotel by 10.30pm shouldn’t hurt anyone!

    Good point about the swimming parents. My father knew the parents of British medal winning swimmers. He asked if they were angry about being beaten by drug cheats. Seems they weren’t too concerned, but their mother (who was their coach) was upset that their daughter got fourth in the Olympics behind three (subsequently) convicted cheats (East Europeans). Her brother is always on lists of top British swimmers (he won Olympic medlas and Commonwealth golds, she only Commonwealth medals). Too easily we forget the parents’ and coaches’ sacrifices.

    The last paragraph of the wikipedia entry captures what I mean

  7. The article here about the burnout of cricketers is really true.But i love to see players like michael clarke playing.But it is important to cut down the workload of players or else their careers will be cut short by injuries.

  8. Francesca – Thank you for the comment.

    The point about injuries is a good one, but how many players’ careers are halted in that way these days? In the above piece, I am happy to exempt the really quick men (so that covers Bond, Flintoff, Tait and Jones who are all 140kph men at full throttle). I’d contend that for the vast majority of players the cutrrent workload is manageable if they practise injury-avoiding fitness regimes and their time away from cricket.

    Than we can watch Clarke, Symonds and the rest of the superstars in every match!

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