The packed international calendar has again been blamed for a team's Test series loss with Bob Woolmer, Pakistan's coach, criticising a "ridiculous" schedule. Injuries finally caught up with Pakistan as they lost the series-deciding third Test against South Africa by five wickets at Newlands.
Pakistan's problem on the third day was that the other bowlers couldn't maintain the standard set by Mohammad Asif and Danish Kaneria, especially with Mohammad Sami having split the webbing of his bowling hand while fielding Saturday. Woolmer pointed out that three of his leading bowlers were back in Pakistan.
"The current schedules are ridiculous," he said. "You are already seeing players like Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini who are exhausted and today Asif was an example. Fatigue leads to injuries. It's a proven equation. If you have too much fatigue, your back goes or you twinge a hamstring or get a stress fracture.
"Cricket has to look at it. As a coach I have to manage these things. We've got Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar and Shabbir Ahmed sitting at home. Somewhere along the line the commercial aspects and the physical aspects of looking after players have to be revisited."
Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was off the field for much of the final day with a back injury and Woolmer added: "We don't know the severity of it yet but he couldn't bend down so he came off the field. He's had the same injury before."
He said it was too early to make a call on the likelihood of Inzamam being fit for a five-match one-day series which starts next Sunday following a Twenty20 international at Johannesburg on Friday.
Woolmer said that while the series loss was disappointing sections of it had showed Pakistan's overseas form was improving since losing all three Tests of a series in Australia two seasons ago on similar, bouncy pitches. However his counterpart Mickey Arthur will argue the surfaces were a little too much like home.
However, Woolmer saved special praise for Asif, who bowled more than 125 overs in the series. "Asif has been incredible," he said. "He's a top quality bowler. He's still young in Test cricket and has got a long way to mature but he's very close to the top of his trade already. With fine tuning and greater fitness levels he'll be a real force in the future of Pakistan cricket."
Inzamam rued Pakistan's missed opportunity to make history in South Africa, having come so far. "We have lost a golden opportunity to win a series overseas against a top side," he said in a televised interview. "It is one of the biggest disappointments of my career."