New Zealand’s cricketing great Sir Richard Hadlee believes that Test cricket is under pressure and a serious issue that needed to be addressed immediately by the ICC.

In a chat with The Hindu before formally launching the Apollo Knee Clinic concept here on Sunday, Hadlee said that too much cricket had become the bane for even the best of cricketers of late.

“Now if someone plays for 10 years, it should be considered a very long career. The frequency of injuries to players is perhaps a sign of overdose of cricket,” he said.

“May be the players are not in a position to complain on this front for there are huge rewards in playing in any format of the game now,” Hadlee added.

“It is time for players to be very careful and work in liaison with qualified doctors on the workload they have to take and the precautions. No one should neglect even the slightest of niggles because they can be dangerous due to the demanding schedule,” he said.

Harsh on pacers

“It is particularly harsh on fast bowlers. So, I can only advice the current generation to be patient, keep working hard with greater focus on scientific physical conditioning programme on the advice of medical experts,” he said.

The 58-year-old Hadlee insists that he still looks at Test cricket as the ultimate test for any player. “It is imperative to retain its sanctity,” he added.

Referring to the idea floated by Sachin Tendulkar of splitting even 50-overs games to sustain the interest in the wake of growing popularity of the T20 format, Hadlee doesn’t believe it has to be tampered with straight away.

“There are many exciting contests in one-dayers. However, who wouldn’t love to see Sachin bat twice in a day especially if he gets out cheaply. May be for this reason, we can think of splitting the 50-overs format into 30 overs and 20 overs of power-play,” he said with a big smile.

Asked about his first impressions after bowling to a 16-year-old Tendulkar in New Zealand in 1990, Hadlee said, “As a boy Sachin had shown great promise and ability. But honestly, when I look back now, I never visualised that he would last for 20 years and be still going strong.”

Role model

“I believe he is a role model for his humility and his achievements both on and off the field. The way he manages time and demands from so many quarters with such ease is unbelievable.

“For me he is the best batsman of all time given the fact that he is successful in all formats of the game. With all due regard to Sir Donald he played only Test cricket,” said Hadlee. “Maybe, Sachin will keep playing for another three to four years and smash all the records so that no one can reach any where near him,” he added.

About his most memorable moment in India, Hadlee said, “Well, when we won the Mumbai Test in 1988 after a long gap. Beating India in India has always been a great challenge for any team. And then when I set the world record of Test wickets tally in Bangalore. They are still fresh in my memory.”

Reflecting on New Zealand cricket, Hadlee felt that it was going through troubled times. “Now, Vettori’s team is in Dubai for the one-day series against Pakistan without a coach. That means a lot of work-load on him.

Transition period

“We are also in the crucial transition period and hope to be back in the elite group. Getting to the final of the recent Champions Trophy is a very good achievement under the circumstances. But we have to appoint a full-time coach for obvious reasons,” he said.

Hadlee complimented Indian captain M.S. Dhoni, saying, “he is an inspirational leader and a truly world-class wicketkeeper. He knows how to get the best out of his boys. I do believe that without him, the Indian team can look very different and beatable.”

And Hadlee signed off with a warning to the Indians saying that the Australians can never be written off till the last game of any series is over. “They are a dangerous side over the years and have always shown remarkable ability to come back very strongly.”

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