Joe Root backs PCA call for English cricket schedule changes due to fears of dangerous driving risk

Joe Root has joined the PCA in calling for a reduced county cricket schedule

Sonia Twigg
Monday 06 May 2024 07:40 BST
Joe Root has called for a decreased county cricket scheduled
Joe Root has called for a decreased county cricket scheduled (PA Archive)

The Professional Cricketers’ Association has called for a change to the domestic English cricket schedule, especially the T20 Blast, citing concerns over player welfare.

Research from the PCA found that 76 percent of its members were worried about unsafe travel, particularly when travelling alone late at night.

After the research, the organisation has called for at least a day’s break between T20 Blast games, and three days between County Championship matches, with the latter already in place this season.

However, for many of the counties, especially those without Hundred franchises, the T20 Blast is a financial lifeline, as such matches are deliberately scheduled for the Thursday to Sunday window to maximise crowds and revenue.

The PCA has placed player welfare at the forefront of its organisation, and raised concerns about the potential consequences of such a demanding schedule, in particular players driving home after long bus journeys in the early hours of the morning.

Daryl Mitchell, the chief operating officer of the PCA said: “There’s definitely reports (of issues) and players telling us they’ve got off the bus and they’ve driven home and they’ve forgotten how they go there.

“There’s an element of danger there. We want to pre-empt anything, before anything disastrous happens, we want to make sure we’re doing everything from a driver’s safety point of view.”

He added: “That (the driving late) is something that scares us and worries us.”

A document from the DVLA states that up to one fifth of accidents on motorways and other monotonous types of roads may be caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

Joe Root has advocated for a change in the domestic schedule (PA Archive)

Joe Root added: “The last thing you want is to fall asleep at the wheel. So if there’s something that can be done in that area then clearly (it should be) because player safety should be paramount.”

The PCA has already taken action, as Mitchell explained that in pre-season the organisation had to raise concerns at one particular unnamed county where players themselves were driving mini-vans with teammates to and from matches.

Root however was keen to highlight another potential benefit of a more managed schedule, which offered more respite periods for players.

The current county cricket schedule sees each team play 14 four-day matches between April and September, with gaps for the other competitions, including all of August dedicated to The Hundred.

The dates of the matches have already been criticised this year due to the amount of rain delays across the country. In the opening round of games, only one match of nine ended in a result, the remainder were weather-affected draws.

The former England captain said: “Everyone wants to see the best possible product, everyone wants to make that jump between international cricket and county cricket as close as we possibly can.”

He added: “Having space to recover, prepare and improve your game during the season is crucial and the creation of minimum standards to protect travel windows and player welfare is non-negotiable.”

In support of Root’s comments, Mitchell said that the injury numbers increased 24 percent in 2023 compared to a five-year average, and pointed at the schedule as a potential cause of the increase.

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