BCCI should crack down on injured players

Last Updated: Mon, May 30, 2011 12:03 hrs

For years, fatigue had been a major talking point within the Indian cricket team, but somehow it was all brushed under the carpet and the team continued playing as a whole. Sure, there were a few injuries here and there coupled with players being rested. But it never got anything serious.

Now, for the first time, a bare bones "India A" team is going to tour the West Indies. Call it the IPL effect or the fatigue factor, but six members of the winning World Cup final XI have chosen not to play in the Caribbean ODI series.

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Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Zaheer Khan were rested outright, choosing IPL over the above mentioned series.

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir managed their injuries in such a way that they gave priority to the IPL.  

Yuvraj Singh became unexpectedly ill just hours before the selection committee met.

What's more, most of these players will miss the subsequent Test tour.

It is also unclear whether all the injured will be fully fit in time for the England tour after that.

Injuries have been happening non-stop in the past too, with Praveen Kumar getting injured after the World Cup squad was announced and Ashish Nehra joining the hurt list on the eve of the World Cup final.

But with the way things have panned out, whichever way you look at it, this is nothing short of a silent rebellion. When have you heard of 6/11 champions becoming ill or tired at exactly the same time?

It's also a rare event for a stand-in captain (Gambhir) to be replaced by another stand-in captain in the form of Suresh Raina.

Put it another way, had we been thrashed in the finals, would the board have agreed to all these rest requests and would the injuries have been handled differently? The number of matches would have still been the same, but the players would not have had the same bargaining power.

The thing to be debated is whether this is a one-off thing or would it keep happening in the future. If it's the second, then Indian cricket could be in for some stormy days.

Some things the BCCI should do immediately to check the problem...  

Make resting an official policy

With the way international cricket is going nowadays, the top 6 teams are all very competitive, while the bottom four teams not much so. Series with West Indies, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe haven't been that tough of late.

These are exactly the series where the regulars should be rested by rotation. That way the seniors will remain fresh and newcomers will get a chance to prove themselves on the global stage, thereby augmenting our talent pool.

Make the IPL part of the ICC schedule

The BCCI would always keep the IPL according to the convenience of the Indian team and not care whether it clashed with series that did not involve India. One of the first casualties of this was Andrew Symonds who chose club over country.

Non-Indian players would miss either the whole or part of the tournament. Pakistan players fretted and fumed while the Indian board sat pretty.

But this is the first time that six players of the Indian team have chosen the IPL over an Indian tour. The BCCI should sit up and take notice.

The ICC recognizes the IPL and happily sends its officials to officiate. All the international players play and the boards get a cut. The IPL is not an isolated one-off event. It is here to stay and it is high time that it became part of the official schedule.

This time it has also put the careers of Lasith Malinga and Chris Gayle in jeopardy thanks to scheduling conflicts. Gayle is in the form of his life and it is a shame that it is at such a time that the West Indies board has decided to dump him.

Be stricter with injuries

The T20 and ODI World Cup final playing XI had just five players in common. Then there are stars like Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and VVS Laxman who were part of neither of the finals and yet helped us become Number 1 in Tests.

All in all we owe our No.1 status in all forms of the game to at least 20-25 players.

What this shows is that hardly anyone is indispensable. We have three ODI openers in the form of Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir. We have a battery of medium pacers far richer than we had in say the 1990s. Spin options have also increased.

It really doesn't matter who misses what match due to injury. The board should crack down on injured players and not allow them to play even if there's a slight chance of aggravation.

It has been a long and tough journey to the No. 1 spot.

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But the journey will be longer and tougher to stay there for a decent amount of time.

The Windies ruled for decades in the past. Australia was a formidable force in the 1990s and 2000s.

India has to aim for a similar tenure and for that the team has to be kept both fresh and fighting fit.

The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/