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The union representing cricketers cautions that the current English domestic schedule for men is not sustainable.

The Professional Cricketers’ Association has stated that the current men’s domestic schedule is not feasible and requires improvements. They have called on the England and Wales Cricket Board to take action.

On Thursday, the schedules for the 2024 County Championship, Vitality Blast, and One-Day Cup were announced, along with the matches for the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy and Charlotte Edwards Cup in women’s cricket.

The County Championship will commence on April 5 and conclude on September 26. There will be a break of approximately two months starting from late June to allow for shorter formats. A notable change is that the majority of T20 Blast games will take place between Thursday and Sunday.

The Professional Cricketers’ Association released a statement expressing worry about the well-being of players and criticizing the consistently demanding schedule for men’s cricket, which includes risky travel arrangements. The statement also noted that there is a sentiment among players that the sport is prioritizing financial gain over their welfare.

Rob Lynch, CEO of the PCA, stated that the release of the 2024 schedule is a timely reminder that the current men’s domestic cricket calendar in England and Wales is not viable and requires reform to benefit both current and future professional players, as well as the overall future of the sport.

“We acknowledge that the ECB recognizes that the schedule is less than ideal and, after discussions with all parties involved, we understand that there is a desire to thoroughly review the 2025 fixture list.”

In the past, we have been promised this dedication, but the professional sports industry has not followed through. Together, we must take action to prioritize the well-being of players and ensure the longevity of our sport. The PCA is eager to work closely with the ECB and the sports community to turn this promise into a reality.

The highly debated implementation of the Hundred, originally set for 2020 but delayed due to Covid-19, added to the already crowded domestic schedule. However, it was the specifics of the tightly scheduled T20 and four-day matches that sparked a significant reaction from the PCA on Thursday.

David Payne, the Gloucestershire bowler and PCA representative, expressed his belief that the constant schedule of matches forces players to prioritize certain formats, and this trend is likely to continue without minimum standards in place for rest, recovery, and preparation between games. When examining Gloucestershire’s fixtures, it is evident that there are several instances where there is not enough time between matches.

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Playing two T20 games back-to-back, with one on a Thursday night in Cardiff and the other on Friday night in Bristol, and then having to play a four-day game in Scarborough on Sunday morning is not ideal for peak performance or player well-being.

Sam Cook from Essex, who is also a PCA representative, expressed his main concern about the neglect of players and support staff’s well-being, especially when it comes to traveling during intense T20 cricket periods.

Despite being emphasized at multiple PCA summits, the schedule continues to neglect player well-being.

Source: theguardian.com