Marsh fears players are over-training

Ricky Ponting, Mitchell Johnson and Mike Hussey will all miss Australia's UAE series amid burn-out worry.

Mitchell Johnson of Australia (L) is congratulated by team captain, Ricky Ponting, as they celebrate the dismissal of South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs during their second one day international cricket match in Centurion, April 5, 2009.REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA SPORT CRICKET) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS

Picture Supplied by Action Images *** Local Caption *** 2009-04-05T114625Z_01_PTA28_RTRIDSP_3_SAFRICA-CRICKET.jpg
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DUBAI // Rod Marsh, the highly respected coach, feels cricket fans are being increasingly denied the chance to see the best players in action because national teams place too much emphasis on training. Ricky Ponting, the captain, the prolific Michael Hussey, and Mitchell Johnson, arguably the form player in the world, will all miss this month's series of limited-overs internationals against Pakistan in the UAE, after being rested by the Australian selectors.

After retiring from playing, the former Australia wicket-keeper Marsh has forged an impressive reputation as a coaching king-maker. He despairs at the emphasis which is placed on training rather than playing the game. "I've always maintained that the more you play the better you get paid," said Marsh, who is the director of coaching at the ICC Global Cricket Academy in Dubai Sports City. "If you are a professional cricketer your job is to play cricket. Nowadays, the amount of training they do when they are not actually playing probably takes a lot out of them.

"It probably takes more out of them than actually playing the game. They have to do it to maintain their position in the team. "It gets to the stage where they are travelling so much, training so much, and playing so much that something is going to give. "So they have to rest them to enable them to elongate their career. "We don't know what is chasing what at the moment, whether the head is chasing the tail or the tail is chasing the head.

"If they didn't train as much, I don't think there would be a problem." The three big-name absentees from Australia's tour party heading to these shores have also all opted out of the cash-rich Indian Premier League, to be staged in South Africa later this month. Andrew Hliditch, the chairman of selectors, said: "The workload of all three players has been immense since September when Australia's tour of India commenced.

"Having Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey in prime form mentally and physically for the Ashes is critical and the series against Pakistan is the only opportunity to give them an appropriate break prior to the start of a very important period." The inexperienced Brett Geeves, a bowling all-rounder, and bowler Ben Laughlin will be handed a chance to press their credentials, in the UAE. "Putting a positive spin on it, the fact the selectors have decided to rest them means it allows other players to play," added Marsh.

"I, for one, would not have liked to have been rested because if my replacement did really well I might not get back in. "I can understand the decision to rest Ricky because I think the pressures on an international captain are now so huge. "It is about getting away from the scene and not having to face the press and not having to run the show - and I think he very much does run the show as the captain.

"It is quite understandable. He did a magnificent job in South Africa as captain, and that probably took a lot out of him. With the Ashes and Twenty20 World Cup coming up, it is understandable the selectors decided to rest him." pradley@thenational.ae