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''Seven ODIs in just over two weeks, spare a thought for players''

Written by: Staff

Three Tests between two sides of equal strengths is not a fair assessment strictly from a purist's point of view.

Well, it is over and done with. Instead of a 2-0 win, India finished up squaring the series. England did well coming from behind but there was unwitting help, no doubt, from the hosts.

Firstly in the form of a glorious gift from the Indian captain, who realised his folly too late. That of throwing away the toss advantage, literally.

The Indians would like the cricket world to believe history is well behind, which in fact, it is. But the self-inflicted wound should be reasonably fresh. The only way it can be healed in a rush is by posting a win in the first of seven ODIs at Ferozeshah Kotla -- a chaotic international venue for many well known intrigues amongst the DDCA officials. Be that as it may, seven one-dayers in a little over two weeks is a bit too much for the players in both sides.

Indian conditions at this time of the year can be trying, no matter what professionalism of the sport dictates. The pace of the game in the heat and dust of the sub-continent is not a pleasant thought. While the BCCI can, as always, laugh all the way to the bank, the players will have to keep their mental and physical faculties open to public scrutiny.

Again the word ''profession'' becomes a shade cruel for players. Not so much for the officials, who enjoy the rare privilege of ''un-accountability''. Sample this -- England played ''official'' practise match at Jaipur in purely ''unofficial'' capacity. Or make it vice versa. The official gainers were the RCA. Take your pick without ever daring to question the BCCI's sole prerogative to do to please the officials who matter.

Andrew Flintoff didn't think much of the pink city and made a quick dash back home to recharge his batteries! Some gains of modern travel are hard to beat.

Reverting to cricket in the capital, the Indians would be hard pressed without Sachin whose mere absence from the dressing room will take a long time getting used to. The little genius must on his own learn to preserve himself away from the surgeons. Another casualty is Munaf Patel. You wonder why fast bowling is the toughest job in cricket.

Sehwag may have passed the physio's test but will his back last the rigours of seven ODIs? England, on the the other hand, are not such a mighty force in the shorter version of the game, as their performance in Jaipur might suggest. On the particular day, one-dayers are hard for any favourites. It is anybody's game who is willing to chase the ball hard and fast with little time to recover in case of a slip. Andrew Flintoff is by far the best player to count on in the final analysis. England might have an adge in fielding first when the sun is a bit kind. Eventually, neck-tops will have an advantage over laptops. Even so, the physical fitness and strength will determine the winners.


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