England on guard against burn-out

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The Independent Online

The England hierarchy are to look into ways of resting leading players over the next year to prevent them from suffering burn-out in the build-up to the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

The England hierarchy are to look into ways of resting leading players over the next year to prevent them from suffering burn-out in the build-up to the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

As England's one-day squad prepare to set out next week for six matches in India and a further five in New Zealand, the selectors are considering methods of keeping their best players fit for the main prize in just over a year's time.

A gruelling schedule already lies ahead of them between now and June 2003 – with 15 Test matches against New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka and Australia before they touch down in South Africa, as well as almost 30 one-day internationals.

Players who are established in both the Test and one-day teams face virtual non-stop cricket up until the World Cup, and England are concerned they may become jaded or even injured in the run-in unless steps are taken to prevent it.

Nine of the 16 players named in the squad for the Test series in New Zealand on Thursday can consider themselves virtual certainties for the World Cup squad in addition to being integral members of the Test party. The chairman of selectors, David Graveney, is planning to raise the issue with the coach Duncan Fletcher and Nasser Hussain, the captain, in the near future.

"There is a lot of cricket to be played in the next year, and we are going to have to look after the players," Graveney said. "I don't know whether that means bringing fresh players into a bigger squad or players being rested more, but something is going to have to give, domestically or internationally."

England are prevented from experimenting with Craig White as a top-order batsman again by an imminent operation on his left knee, which will exclude him for at least three weeks and rule him out of the coming matches in India. But they are optimistic he will be fit to take part in New Zealand and give them further options as they plan a strategy which they hope can exceed expectations in South Africa.

* A fine all-round performance from Lancashire's Kyle Hogg helped England Under-19 to a narrow win over their South Australia counterparts in Adelaide in their first World Cup warm-up game yesterday. Hogg (83 not out) was the mainstay of England's 248 for 7 but the hosts looked set for a successful chase when they reached 230 for 3 in reply by the 47th over. They were eventually to fall one run short, after a late clatter of wickets with Hogg taking 3 for 49. England play Australia Under-19 on Tuesday and then twice more before flying to New Zealand for the Under-19 World Cup.

UNDER-19 TOUR MATCH (Adelaide): England 248 for 7 (Hogg 83no, Muchall 44, Kadeer Ali 31); South Australia 247 for 8 (Hogg 3-49, McMahon 1-25, Patel 1-38). England Under 19 win by one run.

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