Cricketers face a mammoth itinerary

AS THE renowned cricket tragic that he is, I wonder how John Howard is feeling right now about rumours of members of the Australian cricket team talking about going on strike.

If ever there was a landmark case to test the new Industrial Relations laws that have recently been introduced by the Coalition Government, surely the objects of the Prime Minister's greatest affection going on strike would be it.

I can't imagine Little Johnny gladly standing up during question time and defending the letter of the law that has seen Gilchrist, Hussey, Lee and Ponting dismissed for taking industrial action.

The real question is, if the rumours are true, do the Aussie cricketers have a case for being overworked?

Let's have a look at the above quartet who are members of both the test and one day teams.

Since the start of July in 2004 until the start of last night's second test against Bangladesh, the Australian team has played in 29 test matches and 55 one day matches.

To the average Joe in the street that doesn't sound like too much work, after all they're doing what nearly red blooded man in this country would love to do, including the PM.

But it's the scheduling of the matches that is getting under the skin of the players.

Since the team played five tests in 54 days against England last winter (not much rest in between games is there?) the Aussie cricketers itinerary has gone thus.

Fly back from the mother country, have a three week break then play in a joke of a series against the Rest of the World in three one day matches and a test.

Then it is time to play three tests against the Windies, fly to New Zealand for three one day games then return and jump into a test series against South Africa.

Once that is done, you should have a week's break before the VB series starts according to the fixture.

Gilly, Punter, Bing, Mr Cricket, you can put your feet up for a few days and refresh.

Not likely, there's a little something called a 20-20 match that you have to play in.

Within a week and a half of this country's triangular series being won, the boys are playing the first of five one-dayers in South Africa before another three tests against the Proteas.

Here's the final straw.

Five days after winning their fifth consecutive test against the Saffies, the boys are are taking the field in Dhaka to take on the cricketing minnows.

Overworked - Bangladesh nearly beat us.

Excuse me elected leader of our country but aren't you expected to be present at question time for only another 53 days until Christmas.

I know that doesn't include the stress of wearing a kimono next to 'Dubya' at an APEC meeting but surely the new IR laws call for your favourite Australians to at least be allowed a weekend off or two.

To the Aussie cricketers, if you want to march upon the steps of Parliament House to hear have your concerns raised, count me in to march right alongside you.

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