On the one hand, commentator HD Ackerman has repeatedly touched on the importance of the policy of resting players. On the other, England’s fast bowler Mark Wood said he does not want to miss any games for England during the Ashes, despite the fact that his body might not be able to cope with the demands of five Test matches. In the end, he was rested for the 3rd test at Birmingham, allowing Steven Finn to make his return with a 6-wicket haul and the Man of the Match award. Wood himself returned to the team for the 4th test at Trent Bridge, replacing a Jimmy Anderson vexed with a side strain.
In the past, Wood has been troubled by injuries, and often has not played consecutive matches. With a body like his, Wood knows about needing rest. He wants to give all that he can regardless of what it could do to his body, especially on pitches where he has been successful in the past. However, he acknowledges the fact that he is still new to international cricket, and that his body is not used to the demands of competing at that level.
It’s good to know that it’s not only senior or injury-prone players who need rest. Even young players like Wood, who are not used to playing international cricket, need it at times. As a fast bowler, he wouldn’t want to over exert himself.
If enthusiasts put their feelings aside, they will realise that some players really need to be rested. Although we enjoy lots of cricket, overcrowded schedules run the risk of wearing cricketers out.
Players are rested for all kinds of reasons and there are no set rules as to when a player is rested. By far the most logical reason to rest a player is when he has a slight niggle, and playing him could add to the seriousness of his niggle or potential injury. This way, even injury-prone players could be carefully managed.
Depending on how many matches will be played, if the team has already won a series or the group stages of a tournament, with one or two matches left, then it is deemed okay to rest some players during the remaining matches or to get them ready for the next stage of the tournament. This is also the time when senior players are rested and the younger guys play. However, it doesn’t seem like the team takes their winning streak into account when making this decision.
After an intense cricket season, some senior and injury-prone players will be rested. For instance, Faf du Plessis plays as much cricket as AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla, but they are rested more often than he is. It makes you wonder how the coaching staff and selectors decide who needs rest and who doesn’t. Understandably, not everyone can be rested because the team needs to be as balanced as possible.
With the good, always comes the bad. Resting more than two senior players at any one time is risky – something bad always happens. Chopping and changing a team can yield various results. The worst possible outcome is a whitewash, and before that is a series loss. Every team wants to avoid both.
Selectors and the coaching staff need to choose carefully when to rest players, and in which matches to rest them. It doesn’t make sense resting your number one batsman and bowler (South Africa), against a team (Bangladesh) that has been wreaking havoc right before your very eyes. It just doesn’t make sense to rest your best players during the rise of the Tigers.
Maybe the term “resting players” is what’s wrong with this picture. At times players are “rested” because they are not fit enough to perform at their best (Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus in the Perth Test vs South Africa).
After a loss enthusiasts question why the best players were rested. Then again if it was a victory, no one is questioned and everybody is happy. Trouble ensues after a loss, especially a series loss.
If there are no injuries, fatigue or anything which includes resting players, then a cricket team should field their best XI every time. Cricket lovers want to see the strongest players take the field.
Besides, no matter what the reasons are, whether you like it or not, a player will be rested. Most of the time it’s for their own good.