Long schedule is taking its toll

Andy Lloyd
THIS is the week England players have been looking forward to all summer. Aside from an Ashes decider or a Champions Trophy semi-final, this, at last, is their reward for the longest summer of their careers &ndash; the week off.<br /><br />As the only cricket nation in the Northern Hemisphere, England are the only team who play all year round and the calendar now is quite ridiculous.<br /><br />Over the last couple of weeks we have seen the amount of cricket take its toll on the England side, particularly the bowlers, and my advice to them this week is to jet off to sunnier climbs, put your feet up and relax because another busy winter schedule in South Africa is fast approaching.<br /><br /><strong>NOT MANY TEARS SHED</strong><br />The blood and thunder of top-level cricket is incredibly demanding on these players and already we&rsquo;ve seen Andrew Flintoff, Jimmy Anderson, Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad suffer tweaks to their backs and leg joints. Now it&rsquo;s the turn of Paul Collingwood, who was yesterday first to withdraw from this week&rsquo;s Champions League tournament with the Delhi Daredevils for suffering an exact same muscle tear in his buttock to Broad.<br /><br />With his key roles in both the Test and one-day set-ups this summer, Collingwood is one of those in most need of a break, and, to be honest, I don&rsquo;t think they&rsquo;ll be too many tears shed over the fact he can&rsquo;t play in India.<br />&nbsp;<br />England are hopeful that Colly will be fit for the South African tour and join up with Kevin Pietersen, whose return from recent Achilles and foot problems will be a much welcome sight for captain Andrew Strauss and the selectors.