Remember AB DeVilliers and his struggle to cope up with his commitment to various franchises of several T20 cricket leagues across the world, in addition to his commitment to all three formats of the game for his country? The mental fatigue and stress have taken a toll on his body, and it has become injury-prone.
Looking at the amount of load he had foreseen, he decided to take a break from test cricket for nearly the entire 2017 (four test matches against England and two test matches against Bangladesh) and conveyed his decision to Cricket South Africa. Though CSA persuaded him not to take a break, DeVilliers was physically and mentally not ready and decided to opt-out of the test format for some time.
This morning, I came across a news about similar sort of request from Bangladesh’s (read BD here on) premier cricketer and world’s top all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan. By the evening, Shakib’s request was accepted by BD Cricket Board (BCB), though not as much as he had requested. The reason given by Shakib for such a break was to prolong his international career. In my opinion, BCB had no choice but to approve the break, to keep Shakib firing for the next few years for his national side.
As mentioned earlier, he has been a premier BD player and a top all-rounder in the world. Hence, every T20 franchise across the globe is looking for some part of him in their team. And looking at the monetary terms involved in franchise cricket, you cannot blame Shakib to accept the best deal. After all, what BCB pays to him is peanuts, compared to the players world around.
Break: Shakib’s Curious Case
Looking at Shakib’s commitments to those franchises in addition to his workload for his national side, it is natural that he’s going to fill physical and mental fatigue. Whatever is the reason given by BCB, the real reason is the fatigue factor he has been going through due to the consistent cricket he is playing.
Reading through the reasons of both the aforesaid players, it is quite evident that fatigue factor has started creeping into the star cricketers of the world, who have been playing cricket almost 200+ calendar days in a year. With such a hectic schedule, the enjoyment factor has gone out of their game. On a personal front, they are bored of those hotel rooms and have missed their homes as much as their families and friends.
However, the worrying part is the declining quality of cricket since consistent players are opting out. If this trend is to be believed, even fantastic five (Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Kane Williamson, David Warner, and Hashim Amla) may consider a break. Probably, this is the indication of a change in world cricket. Somewhere, it is leading towards the pattern of football, where players are more inclined to their franchises than the national side. In my opinion, it is high time ICC and respective cricket boards consider the load balancing for their cricketers.