Cash flows for Pietersen's men – but at what cost?

England's top players could earn in excess of £1.5m over the course of the next 15 months but what physical and mental state they will be in when they return from South Africa in February 2010 is anybody's guess. During this unbelievably congested period, which began on 24 October when England travelled to Antigua to prepare for the Stanford Super Series, the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, fitness permitting, could have a maximum of 75 days when they are free from England and Wales Cricket Board, or Indian Premier League commitments, less than half the downtime of an average working person.

Pietersen and Flintoff could, of course, say "no" to the contracts and invitations that will be sent their way, but the career of a sportsman is relatively short and the attitude of most is to grasp what is on offer when it is there. A workload of this magnitude will inevitably produce casualties and, as Marcus Trescothick has shown, the problems will not be confined to physical ones.

Injury is an occupational hazard for a sportsman and, sadly, there will be the occasional player whose body cannot cope with the constant demands that are placed on it. Fast bowlers are the most prone to injury. The physically trying nature of the job means that a pull, strain, tear or stress fracture is never far away, and there must be fears among the England hierarchy that the body of Ryan Sidebottom is unable to handle such a workload.

Sidebottom's latest injury, a sore lower back, was picked up between Indore and Kanpur, the venue of this morning's third one-dayer against India. In solitude the injury would be of little concern, but the left-arm seamer has had one injury after another since bowling England to victory against New Zealand in early June. In the five months since taking 6 for 67 at Trent Bridge, back, groin, hip, side and Achilles injuries have restricted him to just 112 overs for England.

Sidebottom, who won England's player of the year award last May, had a good fitness record with Nottinghamshire before making his international comeback in May 2007. The 30-year-old is a wholehearted cricketer and the extra intensity of Test and one-day cricket, the constant travelling and the additional fitness work he has had to put in appears to have taken its toll. It is to be hoped this just proves to be a testing period for him, and that he returns to where he was. Sidebottom deserves better and England are in need of the variety and quality he brings to the side.

India have an equally heavy, if not greater workload than England and their captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, believes that young star performers like Ishant Sharma need to be protected if their careers are not to be ruined. Sharma missed the opening two one-dayers with an ankle injury he picked up in the recent Test series against Australia, and is available for selection today. "Ishant, he is always there for you with the same amount of effort even when he comes back for a third spell," said Dhoni. "You have to take care of a kid like this. He is 19 or 20 and he has a long career ahead of him. No players are disposable. It should not be that you use a player too much and then get rid of him. It is important to give them rest without penalty from the board when they need it.

"I opted out of the tour of Sri Lanka because I felt if I didn't take a break I would get injured. Once you get injured it's not about 15-20 days, you need one or two months off. It's important for players to decide when they want to opt out because it is tough, especially for fast bowlers. In India you don't get plenty of help from the pitch and you have to bowl your heart out.

"You won't need money after three or four years of playing. Of course it depends on what you really want in life. If you want a private jet you struggle to get that in 12 years, but after two or three years you have more than enough. If you are out of form or injured you won't get the money."

* Captain Graeme Smith (138) and Hashim Amla (103) hit unbeaten tons yesterday as South Africa reached 299 for 1 on a rain-hit first day of the first Test against Bangladesh in Bloemfontein. It is Smith's 17th Test century.

England in the money: What they could bank

Central contract: £200,000

Test, one-day and Twenty20 match fees: £275,000

Winning 2009 Quadrangular Stanford T20 tournament in England: £300,000

Winning 2009 Stanford Super Series in Antigua: £600,000

Indian Premier League contract for 15 days' participation: £200,000

Prize-money for winning Test and one-day series, Twenty20 World Cup and Champions Trophy to be added.

(all figures approximate)

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
Clarke Carlisle
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'