After the 4-0 drubbing in England, the BCCI bigwigs said the most pressing objective was to improve India’s injury management system. During the tour, journalists gushed over the system in place in England, which apparently watches its players like hawks and mandates everything they can do and eat and sing and dance (etc.) to keep them match-fit. So, how close are we to that ideal? Let’s take a look at the recent announcement that Praveen Kumar will not make it to Australia:
According to the original BCCI media release sent on Monday evening, Praveen had been ruled out only for the first three ODIs of the West Indies series. This came after Virender Sehwag, the stand-in India captain, had said on the eve of the Cuttack ODI that Praveen would be available for the second match on December 3 as he was suffering from “a niggle”.
It is understood the selectors were not aware of Praveen’s original injury when they had picked him in the squads for the two series. “On the day of the selection, if there is no adverse fitness report then you assume they are fit,” a BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo. “If you have not reported you are unfit you are assumed to be fit.” According to him the turn of events in Praveen’s case caught the selection committee completely by surprise. “The selectors only came to know a day after the Mumbai Test (which ended three days ago).”
I’ll say this much: we’ve made progress in that Praveen’s injury hasn’t come to light during the actual tour, but about one month before it. Just so people are clear about the stakes: We still aren’t sure about Zaheer Khan’s fitness, which means we could send a bowling attack to one of the biggest cricket series of the year led by Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron. Granted, Australia’s own team has been beset by injuries, but I’m still very, very worried.
The injury regime is worrisome, but I wouldn’t sweat the bowling attack too much. The problem in Australian tours generally has been the batsmen under-performing very poorly. Even Ishant Sharma was able to have a good spell there, for which he has been picked despite his average performances after that.
I am kind of worried that because of the “farewell” aspect of the tour of Australia for the Three (Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman), there may be too much pressure on them to perform and at least two of the three will let us down badly.
1. Praveen Kumar played in the second round of the Ranji Trophy for UP, bowling 27 overs and picking 2 wickets (http://www.espncricinfo.com/indian-domestic-2011/engine/match/522942.html). He then sat out the third round game against Orissa. There is no news report explaining this ( and definitely no indication of any injury sustained during or after the Saurashtra game).
2.Per this Times of India repor (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/cricket/series-tournaments/india-in-australia/top-stories/Injured-Praveen-Kumar-to-miss-Windies-ODIs-and-Australia-Tests/articleshow/10918644.cms) – “Praveen Kumar underwent a scan yesterday (28 Nov 2011) evening, and was found to have a fractured rib, as per the report that came through today,”.
The Indian squad for the ODIs and Australia series was announced on November 26, 2011, the same day the Mumbai Test ended.
3. Per this HT report (http://www.hindustantimes.com/Cricket/CricketNews/Blunt-chest-or-blunder-over-elbow-injury/Article1-775304.aspx) – “While Praveen was due to visit the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore for getting his fitness certificate, the physios at the NCA neither informed the selectors that PK had missed the test nor did they tell them that he had not been certified fit.”.
4. The selectors have made it very clear that Zaheer Khan’s selection is conditional to him being fit. And they have given him 2 Ranji games in which to prove his fitness ( round 4 is played from Nov29 thru Dec 2 and round 5 from Dec 6 to Dec 9). The team flies to Australia on Dec 13.
5. Therefore, is the issue injury management or poor communication? And if it is the latter, how is the “injury management system” to blame?
As far as I can see, the injury management system works. Pity the communication lines are still blurred.
Homer, Thanks for dutifully doing more research than I could bother to (I’d rather shoot from the hip than say anything substantive and accurate, alas!). But a crucial part of the injury management policy is, in fact, communication — what good is it to manage injuries if the selectors don’t know who’s fit or not?
That’s a little weasel-y on my part, so let me try again: the point of injury management isn’t only to properly diagnose injuries but to prevent them. According to that ToI report, Praveen “aggravated” an injury he complained about after the Eng-Ind T20 — which raises a more troubling question: how long has this rib been fractured?
From the TOI report – “Praveen suffered some pain after the Twenty20 match against England on October 29 and requested for a two-week break. He then played the Ranji Trophy match for Uttar Pradesh against Saurashtra in Meerut where he aggravated the problem.”
He hasnt played a game since.
So, the question is one of diagnosis. As the HT article states, PK was scheduled to visit the NCA which he never did. Also, these links
Also, this article might be particularly useful in answering the question “how long has this rib been fractured?”
Do bear in mind that stress fractures can be caused by repetitive movements and coughing can break a rib!