Rotation makes the world go round

The duality of my career as a medical doctor and Australian fast bowler has left me in a state of personality flux of late.

My Hyde side, the Australian fast bowler, must be wild and free, doing as he pleases and sneering at those who stand in my way. Batsmen often report, after gazing upon my countenance, the sheer terror evoked by what appears to be an utterly evil (Uttersonly evil? Anyone?), malicious personage hurling a pound of leather in their direction. I can understand. I’ve never faced my bouncer, but I’ve faced more than a few people who have, and the look on their face was terrifying even for the man who delivered said bouncer.

On the other hand, my Dr. Jekyll, the  man in uniform, respected by all, tries to make sense of the medical misnomers that are put to him. Granted, my Jekyll may have a bit of help from a certain female every now and then, diverting from the script of the classic, but that’s not to say his conclusions are not as valid as Dr. Nick Riviera’s, or any other respected man of the profession.

As you could imagine, Australia’s fast bowling “Crisis” would have struck a major chord in a man juggling the juggernaut fast bowler and medical man all in one body.

The fast bowler in me wants to tell these big sissies to harden up, run in and simply take pleasure in knocking batmen’s blocks off. A simple pleasure, but one that never gets tiresome.

Yet the doctor side of me (my better half, you might say) urges treading the path with caution when attempting to solve the puzzle that is the human body and its physical capabilities. We are, we have been reminded of late, delicate things whose powers can be extinguished very quickly and easily. Even the colossal physical specimen of Michael Clarke has been cut down by the hamstring scissors.

When he-who-does-not-bowl-fast can also be injured in the game of cricket, what hope do those who do have? Do we criticise the rotation policy employed by the Australian decision makers with too much Hyde-like vigour, while ignoring its creditable Jekyllian qualities?

As Australians we have the tendency to romanticise the trails blazed by rough, gruff, batsmen-hating quicks like Lillee, McGrath and Thommo. But just as the NFL have been safeguarding themselves against potential lawsuits from former players by tightening tackle regulations, Cricket Australia have realised that cricketers don’t want to have dodgy backs and crook shoulders for the rest of their existence.

While some wear these burdensome reminders of battles fought long ago with fierce pride, others have expressed that they would like to help their children build tree houses and billy-karts in the future. I reckon they’d probably like to be able to get out of bed and make a cuppa without reaching for the Neurofen too.

In fast-bowler form, such sentiment would be shrugged off as weakness, and the greater good would be respected: bodies must be sacrificed for the war to be won.

But there comes a time in most professions where people realise that what it is that they do, while it is their livelihood, it is not their entire life. As cricket descends further and further into professionalism, and Twenty20 tournaments become increasingly meaningless, modern day quicks have surely realised that injuring oneself for the greater good of the Buenes Aires Braisers or the Cootamundra Cricketers, and clubs with similarly illustrious histories, is just… hate to say it… not worth it anymore.

As an aside, I might mention that the other dastardly thing about professionalism is that people get paid much, much more than they did in the past. Those glorious times when fast bowlers made a living selling their sweat to lesser men are long gone, and money is now achieved through contracts and other associated nasties. This pitfall will surely be made more of later in this article. Or will it? (Yes, it will)

That’s not to say that Test cricket, the ultimate form of the game, should suffer because of the misdeeds of the limited over tyrants. The oversaturation of pyjama cricket places stress that is more than just physical on a cricketer. People travel much, much more than they did in the past. I know the surlies among you will shrug this off with the distain you shrug off a 150kph bouncer to the point of the elbow, but believe it or not some people feel the desire to rub it.

An international cricketer playing all three forms plays cricket overseas for six to nine months of the year, plus their three month home season. And sometimes, when the holes in the Swiss cheese align, a bunch of them all get injured at once. It’s just happened, and it’s no one’s ‘fault,’ per se.

Despite my earlier bollocks, I’m no doctor, and I really put trust in the methods of the learned few rather than the ignorant majority. The home remedies suggested by former fast bowlers both international and backyard include a health regimen of no strength training, bowling through the pain and more time in the nets. And diets? Pfft! Vitamin profiles are a myth.

I’ll take the vitamin supplements, analysis of individual’s body mechanics and manageable workloads any day over the voodoo wisdom of those who suggest it’s all bollocks.

I suppose that the question that is worth asking is when rotation should be implemented. This is certainly a worthy topic of discussion.

For example, was “resting” Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus the best course of action in the final Test against South Africa in Perth. From a cricket perspective, it definitely was not, but if you honestly thought those two guys were being rested and weren’t out due to injury then I want some of what you’ve been having.

Being a fashionable cricket fan, obviously players should prioritise Test matches and make it their aim to be fit for every single one. Their preparation should focus solely on this, with the other two forms being peripheral.

Which is a shame when, in the fashionable cricket heirarchy, the most peripheral form is also the one that pays you twenty times as much for a twentieth of the work.

Well that sure throws a spanner in the works.


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Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair

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