@Ben_Wisden 3 minute read
India’s schedule over the past 12 or so months has been brutal.
From the 2020 Indian Premier League, they flew pretty much straight out to Australia, a tour which ended with them both victorious and also basically unrecognisable as a side. From there, it was home to face England, who at least had the good grace to ensure the games didn’t go very far to allow for some impromptu rest.
Then it was time for another IPL campaign, with the only rest possible coming because the Covid-19 situation in India became so horrific that continuing to play cricket became basically unconscionable. In other words, not exactly the most relaxing atmosphere for the only extended break you’ll get in two years.
It was then off to England for the World Test Championship final before a month of training/city break-life in London, and then an emotionally charged five-Test series which became a four-Test series. And then it’s the IPL again and then the T20 World Cup.
You’d think after all that, India’s players might have earned some time off. A chance to go and get away from it all, recharge ahead of the challenges to come. You would be wrong.
The BCCI today announced India’s schedule for their 2021/22 home season, and it’s as if they looked at the past year or so and thought, ‘You know what? That was fine, but it was a bit easy. Could we have fitted in more cricket?’ And so three days after the T20 World Cup final, India will begin a T20I series against New Zealand, followed by two Tests, with the last beginning on December 3.
Then it’s off to South Africa, for an all-format tour, the first game of which starts on December 17 (or 10 days after the last scheduled day’s play against New Zealand), and the last match of which takes place on January 26. From there it’s back to India, and another gap of less than two weeks before West Indies visit for a white-ball tour, while Sri Lanka’s Test series in India begins six days after that West Indies series ends.
A lengthy gap between Sri Lanka’s departure on March 18 and June 19, when South Africa arrive to play some T20Is and ODIs, looks luxurious, until you remember that that’s when IPL 2022 will be held. And then India are off to England again, with their first game currently set for July 1, 12 days after the Proteas leave, but that might well be pushed sooner, depending on what happens with the extra game/s likely to be scheduled to ‘make up’ for India’s premature departure from England this summer, with either a couple of T20s or a Test match seemingly likely to be added to the itinerary. Because why not?
Depending on when exactly the IPL is scheduled for, it might be that India’s stars never go more than two weeks without playing for basically a whole year. There will have to be significant rotation, because it’s surely impossible for any one player to do it all. It’s ridiculous.
All of this, of course, is set to the backdrop of a persistent pandemic, with the lingering threat of bubble life and the stresses that brings. Virat Kohli has already jacked in two of his four leadership positions in order to lengthen his career. Ravi Shastri says he can’t remember a single white-ball bilateral India have played under his stewardship. Good job India have 30 of them scheduled between the end of the T20 World Cup and August 2022 then.