Bhuvneshwar awaits specialist’s word on injury, denies workload an issue
India’s second highest ODI wicket-taker this year, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is waiting for the BCCI medical specialist to guide him after being sidelined due to sports hernia that was diagnosed late.
The pace bowler, who has been India’s mainstay in limited overs cricket and whose injury forced the team management to summon a Test specialist for the ODI series against West Indies, says he doesn’t know how he got injured and how soon he will be back in action.
Kumar played 19 ODIs in 2019, picking 33 wickets—the second best tally by an Indian, after Mohammad Shami’s 42. He played nine T20s, taking eight wickets.
He had a hamstring strain during the World Cup in England while the sports hernia went undetected initially at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), after tests at a private clinic as recommended by the Bengaluru-based body.
“Sports hernia is not a serious problem. I played with it in the T20 series. I was normal. Sports hernia gives a bit of discomfort. It is not like I can’t walk… But I have to ensure it is cured and doesn’t become problematic,” Kumar said on phone from Hyderabad ahead of a promotional event of sports equipment maker, Asics.
The appointment with the BCCI specialist has been fixed for the first week of January. Sports hernia is a strain or tear of soft tissue in the lower abdomen or groin area.
He denied workload had caused an injury, the kind that had also sidelined off-spinner R Ashwin during the 2018 England tour. “We’re used to playing a lot of cricket. We somehow manage because there are specialists playing different formats.
“Workload can be an issue for a player if he is playing all three formats, but no bowler is doing that. There are players who play just one format and they too get injured. Workload is not the reason.”
If breakdown isn’t a result of workload, is BCCI’s injury management an issue?
Kumar said: “I don’t want to comment on injury management. The thing is the clinic which NCA referred me to couldn’t diagnose the injury. But it is not like I don’t want to go there. But till I don’t show it to a specialist and a treatment is not specified, there is no point in going to NCA because whenever the rehab starts, it’ll be after I see a specialist. For now, everything is under BCCI. I am going with an open mind and will accept whatever I am told.”
India though would hope Kumar is ready for the World T20 in October as he is a key member.
“I am focussing a bit on my fitness and not thinking about cricket at all. I haven’t been thinking about World T20 at all. Participating in it is subject to recovering. There are still 9-10 months. Once I see the specialist, only then I’ll plan.
“Once I am (back) on the ground, there will be 4-5 months till T20 World Cup, then we’ll see what and how it happens. How the rhythm and fitness works.”
Kumar, earmarked largely as a limited-overs specialist, has sat out Tests as Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav have helped India win. He last played a Test in January 2018 in South Africa, in a series where his axing from the Centurion Test despite a strong performance at Cape Town caused controversy.
“I always looked at it positively,” he said. “The team now has bowlers who can play in different situations. From the team point of view, it is good. There are times that despite doing well, you don’t get to play because in those conditions, you have players who are better.
“You don’t react (to being dropped). If you see from the team’s perspective, it is fine. If I start seeing it individually, it can get frustrating.”