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Australia's cricket schedule is appalling
Jock Campbell
13:00 AEST Thu Feb 7 2013

Jock Campbell
Jock Campbell is a leading expert in athlete high performance, strength and conditioning. Jock will be providing exclusive insights throughout the 2012/13 Summer of Cricket.
Jock Campbell

There's been much debate this summer over the injuries plaguing Australia's cricket teams, but the biggest contributing factor may have been overlooked.

The players, the coaching staff, the selectors and the sports scientists have been slammed for the rotation policy and injury rate, but it's time to set the record straight. It's time I finally talk about the one area that can be controlled and is obviously not done by anyone with regard for player wellbeing or peak performance.

That area is scheduling, and the one-day series against West Indies is a prime example.

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. 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?

All we get are excuses from Cricket Australia in this area, that they are endeavouring to do their best while trying to ensure the commercial viability of the game. Concerns about money should be the last thing on their minds and would definitely be dismissed if it were the players and coaches making the decisions.

When players line-up for back-to-back Tests, Cricket Australia's own statistics show that players increase their risk of injury by as much as 87 percent.

When I was the Physical Performance Manager with the Australia cricket team (2000-2005) I asked the question of how an ODI could be scheduled just two days after a long haul flight? I presented research on jet-lag and how it negatively impacted performance, arguing that players had to be given the best opportunity to play at their peak and reduce their overall risk of injury.

The response I got was "you guys won the game, so what are you worried about?". It was more than disappointing.

I know that in the past 12 years of scheduling there have often been people in charge with no international playing experience and certainly no sports science or medicine background.

If the Australian public doesn't want to see rotations then the invisible man in charge of scheduling needs to be called to account.

Yes, scheduling is a difficult job but as someone who used to be on the inside I know it can certainly be done better. In 2011, Australia toured Sri Lanka and played three back-to-back Tests in a row, with little rest in between. It should never happen again.

My fear is that when it comes to the crunch, money will continue to talk.

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