Melbourne, Apr.22 (ANI): Cricket Australia has invited wives and girlfriends to a team camp before the players leave for England, as part of a bigger effort to alleviate the strain on family life caused by long periods away from home.
It is uncharted territory. We are in an unprecedented period of playing cricket and we are conscious of the number of new players into the team and the number of new partners, young families, newly married players. It is a great opportunity for us to take a more holistic approach to welfare, management, relationships and (to) work with some experts," The Age quoted CA operations manager Michael Brown, as saying last night.
The regular pre-season camp will be attended by all 25 contracted players and members of the Twenty20 World Cup squad before a tour of England lasting almost four months for those who play all forms of the game.
The need to balance touring and family life has been a burning issue for CA and the Australian Cricketers Association, which last night said the joint effort to look after families was "one of the biggest issues for us" in negotiations for a new pay deal.
While a deal is still some way off, ACA boss Paul Marsh said both were committed to helping players and their families cope with the stresses of long absences.
"This is not just about taking the girls up to the camp and talking to them, it's about helping the families spend some more time together before their husbands leave again. It's a small part of a more comprehensive program," Marsh said.
The heavy program has forced Australia to rest three of its best players - Ricky Ponting, Mitchell Johnson and Mike Hussey - from the current series against Pakistan to ensure they are fresh for the Twenty20 World Cup in June and the Ashes.
CA is presumably also mindful of the toll taken on relationships, following the breakdown of Brett Lee's marriage last year and the off-field problems of Andrew Symonds.
The camp will be held on the Sunshine Coast late next month and will comprise the usual training sessions, planning and contract meetings, and will involve the partners in sessions run by relationships experts on how to cope with the pitfalls of life on the road.
The camp will be a far cry from the rugged boot camp in outback Queensland, masterminded by former coach John Buchanan, which kick-started the campaign to win back the urn in 2006-07.
Players will again be encouraged to have their partners with them during the Ashes tour.
Though Brown acknowledged not everyone would always get along, he said: "They are always welcome." (ANI)