Conspiracy theory

INDIAN TEAM PHYSIO John Gloster (seen attending to an injured Tendulkar here), is a part of the injury management team, and for accountability's sake should consult Dr. Anant Joshi, the consulting surgeon to the Board of Control for Cricket in India.-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH INDIAN TEAM PHYSIO John Gloster (seen attending to an injured Tendulkar here), is a part of the injury management team, and for accountability's sake should consult Dr. Anant Joshi, the consulting surgeon to the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

It is the job of the injury management team to safeguard the players' fitness and the team's capability. If both join in a conspiracy to conceal injuries, the team would suffer.

The injury management of the Indian cricket team is a big farce. It has always been and it will continue to be so because it's the connivance theory that works overtime. Renowned orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Anant Joshi, the consulting surgeon to the BCCI, must be wondering whether it's worth continuing with this so called injury management team that is controlled by the cricket team's physio and doctors from foreign countries.

The reason for getting experienced physios from outside the country is their expertise in sports injury, but a glance at the injury chart reveals that there have been recurring injuries to players more frequently than ever before. Do we ever remember Kapil Dev or Karsan Ghavri breaking down during their career and missing a series?

Ghavri once jokingly said that whenever Pataudi handed him the new ball, bowling those four overs was his warm-up, and if he got a wicket, the additional overs were his stretching exercises. One can sympathise with Tendulkar as wear and tear have caused him a lot of problems, but look at India's battery of fast bowlers. One gets the impression that it has no cells to generate the speed that is required to bowl at the international level. Before the Mumbai Test against England, I had a discussion with the former England fast bowler John Snow, who was instrumental in winning the Ashes in 1970-71 in Australia.

Snow said, "I am totally confused about the frequency with which the international fast bowlers are breaking down. I don't subscribe to the view of the England team management that the fast bowlers should be preserved and shouldn't be made to bowl in county games. I bowled on an average a thousand overs during county games apart from the overs that I bowled for England. Trueman, Tyson and Statham all did it because that kept our body going. By not bowling enough in the nets or in matches, you are not getting your bowling muscles in the right shape. That, according to me, is the main problem." I know this statement of Snow will be countered with arguments by coaches, physios and trainers. But compare that era of fast bowlers with the present generation and not many will have a logical base to counter Snow's argument.

Isn't it strange that bowlers like Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan crossed 140km when they began their international career, but are now struggling to bowl at 130km? Balaji may soon land up in the commentary box, such is the plight of one of our finest prospects.

Murali Kartik and Ashish Nehra are made to believe by the injury management team that the more trips they make to Australia, the faster are their chances of making good recovery. And the BCCI pays for these nonsensical decisions recommended by the injury management team.

Tendulkar's tennis elbow and the cyst in his shoulder have become topics of case study amongst the medical fraternity. In both cases, the renowned surgeons have suggested the wrong approach to these injuries. Dr. Joshi self-mockingly calls himself `Informed Surgeon' of the BCCI, as he is informed of the decisions only after they have been made; his opinion is not sought earlier. There is absolutely no coordination between him and the team physio John Gloster. Here's where the BCCI must step in. If both Dr. Joshi and Gloster are to be held accountable, then Gloster has to consult Dr. Joshi.

There is a growing tendency to protect, defend and promote injured players. If this is the way to take India to a different level that Greg Chappell is talking of, then things are not going to work smoothly. There are players who have been given a lot of chances to succeed and there are quite a few who, despite their consistent performances, have become permanent fixtures in the Board President's team. The selectors are blamed for having different yardsticks for different players. The same could be said of the Indian team's injury management.

The BCCI has formed a Committee of Optimum Utilisation Of Resources. It has, in its first meeting, taken some bold decisions regarding the formation of the national and state selection committees, but it's time the committee discussed the vital issue of injury management. Again we should be talking of accountability. Let the physio and the trainer of the Indian team make a presentation on the status of and the remedial measures taken with regard to the contracted players.

The players' financial interests may be best served by concealing their injuries and retaining them in the team, but this is at the cost of their long-term fitness and the team's success. It is the job of the injury management team to safeguard the players' fitness and the team's capability. If both join in a conspiracy to conceal injuries, the team would suffer. This is not a win-lose situation, but rather a lose-lose situation. Unfit players are doing a great disservice not only to themselves, but also to those pronouncing them fit, the team and the country.