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Cabin fever creates double trouble

The players gather to decide who has first pick in The Tig's fantasy double header
The players gather to decide who has first pick in The Tig's fantasy double header

Pacing the floor without a weekend highlight to focus on, The Tig was drawn to a comment this week made by England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler about it being possible to field two national teams on the same day to maximise the amount of cricket in a shortened summer.

Professional cricket is suspended until the end of May and with England games scheduled against the West Indies, Pakistan, Australia and Ireland this summer – if they can travel of course – the game finds itself in the same old quart-and-pint-pot conundrum as other sports.

Buttler was asked about the option of playing a Test match and limited-overs games simultaneously as England have separate squads to face the differing demands of the long form and the abridged version, though with some significant cross-over.

“If it was logistically possible, you would get the crowds,” he said. “People will want to come because they haven't had any sport.”

At the minute, even one game of anything would do just fine, thanks. 

But with not much else to do, and following an announcement of a further postponement to the Premiership season, it set The Tig thinking about how to cope with a similar idea in other sports, including rugby. It’s a purely hypothetical situation, a Fantasy League fantasy if you like, though rugby does, of course, have vast experience of running different competitions side by side and playing club games during international periods with all that entails, so it is not totally new territory.

The proposition started throwing up a host of questions for a mythical coach to think about:

In splitting the squad, do you put all the ‘first-choices’ in the same team or do you mix them across the two?

Would you consider senior backs alongside younger forwards and vice-versa?

Go stronger at home than away?

More mobile pack versus some and more weighty against others in a horses-for-courses scenario?

Do you keep combinations together week to week in whichever line-up they are used or do you shuffle the deck?

How would you plan two different gameplans in one week?

Would it be preferable to play two at home on the same day and two away the next, or send squads out simultaneously in two different places, thus ensuring a home game and an away game every week?

More logistically in our sport, would anyone have enough front-rowers to cover the teams and two full benches? And how would coaches and staff divide themselves?

It’s pure pie in the sky, of course, but what about your supporters? The national cricket team would bank on sell-out support wherever they played. In this make-believe rugby scenario you’d do well for numbers at home but struggle away, other than having ‘ex-pats’ who live closer to opposition territory.

That’s a lot of questions about a made-up situation, but it was something to pass the time in another week without a game.

Meanwhile, there was a story doing the rounds that UFC – home of mixed martial arts – is planning to put together a world title bill on a private island while international travel is restricted. It may have been April 1 but all track of date and time has been totally lost now.

But as the self-appointed boss of this blog, The Tig hereby imposes Law 1 in this fantasy: If two games are on the same day, I have to get to both. That is non-negotiable.

It'll be great when we get one on at a time in the real at some stage in the future. For now, though, stay safe.