Should national cricketers take a break to play county cricket?
County cricket has helped the careers of many international stars. It’s a tough grueling schedule with matches every week for eight months, just making it through a season tests players to the limit. That is actually a good thing, endless days of running in helps bowlers build strength and cope with burgeoning workloads. Batsmen are tested in swinging, seaming conditions on pitches with good bounce, they learn and hone their technique there.
Harbhajan Singh is taking this route, he signed up with Essex for a season, hoping to find whatever he’s missing, whatever it is that has seen him being dropped from the national team. Good on him, hope it does to him what it did for Zaheer Khan.
Before Zaheer joined Worcestershire in 2006 he was good but not quite the finished product. He lacked variation, discipline and many fitness problems. After his stint at the county under Graham Dilley, he came back with not just a number of weapons but also great control over them, he was fit for quite a long stretch after that and his sensational form and rise as one of the world’s top bowlers was one of the reasons India became the no.1 in Tests in 2009.
Great as that may sound, I believe these changes can take place at home. Send younger players from U-17, U-19 teams to play abroad and get to know the conditions. Make them sweat in domestic cricket so that they learn to manage the workload demands of international cricket. Senior cricketers of the national team like Harbhajan can afford to take a county break only once they are dropped, no one would risk their hard-earned place in the team otherwise.
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