England's Ashes Schedule Is Brutal
England boarded a flight Wednesday for Perth International Airport in Australia and will arrive late Thursday evening. Bleacher Report investigates England's tour and assesses just how hard modern-day travel is for international cricketers.
While it is hard to feel sympathy for a group of men paid to play cricket in exotic countries around the world, the day-to-day grind of playing and travelling is most definitely underestimated and can take considerable toll on the players.
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The Thursday arrival of the England team in Perth will be the beginning of a tour that will take the squad to nine different cities on multiple occasions, with the side making 21 separate flights and travelling 34,777 air miles.
An Australian Tour Is Particularly Hard
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There is no tour more gruelling for England than a tour of Australia.
It often involves five Test matches, a plethora of ODIs and Twenty20s and extensive travel across one of the largest Test-playing nations—the journey from Perth to Sydney sees you cross five time zones and travel more than 2,000 miles.
Tours Can Be Mentally Draining
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The brutal modern-day schedule of a professional cricketer is perhaps unparalleled in international sport—because while there may be other sports that afford players even less time at home, rarely are they away for such extended periods of time.
If demons creep into the minds of players, if the dark begins to invade the light, there’s no escape. Tours are long—really, really long—hotel rooms are monotonous, travel is grossly repetitive and the whole cycle is an immense challenge.
The darker side of touring was exposed by Marcus Trescothick in harrowing fashion, when in his book, Coming Back To Me, he graphically explained his mental disintegration and breakdown with regards to travelling and playing cricket abroad.
Marcus Trescothick's Troubles
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The following is an excerpt from Marcus' Trescothick's autiobiography Coming Back to Me, which was reprinted in The Times (paywall) in 2008.
The left-hander struggled with touring and it eventually led to his England retirement. Though his was an extreme case, this year will be an extreme winter of touring:
By the time we checked in for the flight at around 7.30pm, I was clinging on and clinging to the idea that I might be able to get on the plane and once aboard, maybe the feelings would go ... We went through to the departure lounge and I made my way with Steffan and Jason to the nearest coffee bar. I ordered a bacon and egg sandwich and as I finished the last bite, time stopped for a millisecond. In that blink of the mind I was cooked and I knew it. Sensing I could go at any second, I was desperate to get up from the table and get away from the other two lads because I never liked breaking down in front of other people. I managed to get as far as Dixons. “Oh, God.”
England Are Well Rested
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However, England’s players will no doubt be feeling refreshed and reinvigorated after a relatively long break from the international game in which some players have been on holiday, while others have been simply recuperating at home.
It was a break that was much needed following a long, mentally draining, physically testing summer of seven Tests, eight ODIs, five T20s and the hugely disappointing Champions Trophy Final defeat to India, which Alastair Cook has since acknowledged took a lot out of his team, as reported by The Telegraph's Nick Hoult.