Tuesday, February 1, 2011

World Cup hopes in jeopardy as long tour takes strain

It isn't just the poor form of his batsmen that Andy Flower has to worry about it as he prepares for the World Cup.

He also has to deal with a mounting injury list as the long tour down under begins to take its toll and those keeping an eye on the livescores will know the situation is now far from ideal.

The cricket calendar is already too crowded, with administrators keen to cram in as many games as possible.

Cricket though, unlike football, is played with smaller pools of players, meaning an ever-increasing strain is put on those stars to keep performing. Injuries can crop up at any time, like Stuart Broad's stomach injury at Adelaide, but that risk increases as the play more games without a rest.

There is also the fact these games are often played aboard – in England's case this winter on the other side of the world – so there is a mental strain to consider with players becoming homesick and unsettled. This tour began in October and will only come to an end this month and anyone who has been following the cricket live scores will have noticed how the side's performances have tailed off.

Already Flower has lost Tim Bresnan (calf) and Graeme Swann (back) as well as Broad. Ajmal Shahzad was then ruled out of the remainder of the series with a hamstring tear while Chris Tremlett will miss the fifth one-day international in Brisbane with a side strain.

There are just 16 days between England's final one-day international against Australia and their opening World Cup game against Holland. The race is on not just to get players prepared, but simply off the treatment table.

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