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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah injuries cast doubt on BCCI methods

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) vouches for structured workload management but inconsistent information could be the cause for the injury concerns surrounding Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

cricket Updated: Jul 31, 2018 08:47 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jasprit Bumrah (L) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are both going to miss India’s Test series against England due to injury.
Jasprit Bumrah (L) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are both going to miss India’s Test series against England due to injury.(AFP)

The India team management’s stress on the importance of fielding their best players for overseas Test success may not be reflected in the first Test against England where they will have to do without seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. While Bumrah is nursing a finger injury and should be available for selection from the second Test, Kumar is suffering from a back aggravated in the ODI series preceding the Tests.

While injuries can occur anytime, especially the one that affects Bumrah, there will remain questions over India’s management of players and their priorities. Bumrah and Kumar impressed in the South Africa Test series by picking 24 of the 60 wickets. Touted as India’s strike bowling duo in England and Australia later this year, the duo featured in almost all limited-overs matches against South Africa.

During the ODI series, the team management was asked at least twice if someone like Bumrah would be rested in inconsequential games. But perhaps, India’s desperation to win the series in a thumping manner prevented them from resting him or Kumar. As a result, while Bumrah played in all six ODIs and two out of the three T20s, Bhuvneshwar played in five ODIs and all three T20s. They then returned to the Indian Premier League where Bumrah played 14 games and Bhuvneshwar 12.

Onus on management

“The Indian team is blessed with plenty of fast bowlers now, giving it options. Back in our days, there used to be only 2-3 of us, who’d bowl in all games, and we had to be extremely careful in managing workload. These days too, however, you have to be careful in managing workloads. There is no off-season for players, so there are chances they can get injured,” says former India pacer Manoj Prabhakar.

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Prabhakar feels the onus is on the team management to see that the bowlers’ fitness levels don’t remain the same and they improve. “The team management needs to see how they can last the long Test series, like the five-Test one.”

Prabhakar didn’t forget to mention another important point. “The first thing I’ll ask is why has the fitness level of a player, say Bhuvneshwar, remained same all the way? Why hasn’t it gone up? You have to be aware of the wear and tear because that is what converts into injuries. Unless you manage the wear and tear, it’ll be hard to stop injuries.”

While the BCCI follows a player management system, wherein the workload of the player is calculated and kept track of, the final selection rests with the team managements of both the national side and IPL franchises.

Saba Karim, the BCCI General Manager (Cricket Operations) says that there is a well laid-out workload management system. “We have a centralised system where all information is aligned. All centrally contracted players are tracked and their workload information – including in IPL – is maintained. If they are injured in IPL, then they are referred to the BCCI by the franchises. The physio, trainer and coach along with the captain are aware of it,” he said.

Karim however added the final decision over the playing eleven rests with the team management. “We have no say over it. The team management decides on which player to play in how many matches during tours or series.”

Lack of consistency

The situation can be rescued by BCCI using a detailed athlete management system and athlete monitoring system, says sports physiotherapist Heath Mathews, who is associated with the Mumbai Indians team.

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“It is an issue we need to identify – how much of workload has gone up. It is not just about number of overs, but also how you have bowled, whether flat-out or otherwise. The AMS (Athlete Management System) needs to be a one-stop shop which the coach, physio, athlete, sports scientist, dietician of all teams can access,” said Mathews.

Mathews feels the problem is that different private companies handle different AMS for different set-ups, which means there is lack of consistency. “The information has to be continuous and consistent, which it isn’t as there are private companies handling systems for different teams within India.” Mathews did admit that there have been problems in information flow. “There needs to be a unified national process to bring in consistency.”

First Published: Jul 31, 2018 08:47 IST

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