When fast bowler Navdeep Saini hobbled off the field at The Gabba on Friday squeezing his hamstrings, he completed the Indian ‘Injured 11’ roster of the Australia tour.
The unprecedented number of foot injuries in a single tour is the highest toll ever for Team India, whether it is an away series or at home. Sports science experts have reason to believe that in a season after a break forced by a pandemic, greater team rotation and effective management of player workload could have helped prevent injuries.
“Muscle injuries don’t happen overnight. It starts with a little trick, then it gets bigger. It can be the result of the load and also some actions, ”Ramji Srinivasan, India’s strength and conditioning trainer at the 2011 World Cup, told The Indian Express.
“Forget the injuries suffered by Ravindra Jadeja or Mohammad Shami. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, but load management injuries are different.
Consider this: Bumrah, who hasn’t played much cricket since suffering a stress fracture in his back after the 2019 World Cup, had 60 passes in the IPL, 27.3 overages in the 3 ODIs against Australia and 117.4 excess in the three test matches. he played.
After not being out of his home for nearly four months due to the lockdown, the India bowling attack leader has managed 205.1 overs in the past four months. These are the hours when he would have played in the nets, run on the field and, on occasion, bat.
In contrast, his Australian counterpart Pat Cummins played 42 less than him (163.1 overs) during the same period.
While cricketers are used to a busy schedule, what makes this season different is that they started playing competitive matches without a proper preseason due to the foreclosure rules that were in effect. at the time. A pre-season allows the body to get used to the rigors of the game day in and day out.
“During the lockdown, even if you were training, it’s not at a competitive level. When it comes to competition, the pressures are much greater. And no matter how hard you train, the body forgets the rigors of a tournament, ”said physiotherapist Nikhil Latey, who has worked with top Indian athletes.
Srinivasan said there was a tendency to cap the lockdown, which also affected the aerobic capacity of bowlers. Without good running mechanics, he added, there is a “ potential risk of injury from the demands of bowling – the foot landing, the way you transfer weight, release and follow whatever. account. ”
“Suddenly, after playing four IPL games, you find yourself in Australian conditions,” Srinivasan said. “Cricket is a racing game. Under lockdown, running fitness was affected. This is why bowlers are more injured.
Michael Harding, who was the physio of English Premier League team Newcastle United for 14 years before joining East Bengal in the Indian Super League last October, said the ‘explosive’ nature of cricket made players more prone to injury.
“Cricket can be a bit more explosive than a few other sports. In this, if you are a defender you stand in one place or are inactive for short periods of time and then have to explode in a sprint from a standing start (an upright position). This could predispose them to more injury, ”Harding said in this article.
More so in Australia, where the outer fields are softer and most of the terrain has an area of slightly uphill uphill, Srinivasan added. He further explained: “The combination of the two puts great pressure on the posterior chain of the body. The calf and buttocks are always under stress. To put it simply, it’s like running on a sandy beach and on hard ground. The Indian terrains are harder, those of Australia are outer fields made of sand, and therefore softer. The strain is manifold, especially for Indian bowlers, who were not born or raised there.
Latey said that although Indian team Nitin Patel’s physio would have known about these factors, there was little he could have done about them due to the match schedule. What could have prevented this is the management of the player workload.
Sports physiotherapist Heath Matthews said the most crucial factor in minimizing the risk of injury is going slowly. “It all depends on what we call load management. How heavy are you putting your body? And are you giving your body enough time to recover and build strength over a period of time? Matthews, who is the head of sports science and medicine at the HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in Mumbai, said.
Srinivasan questioned whether the monitoring of the charge of Indian players had been carried out correctly. “There’s a missing link somewhere that I can’t answer without data. Has the load monitoring been carried out correctly? What were the IPL trainers doing? He asked.
He added that repeated injuries to players like Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma are also a “concern”. “Forget IPL, go back in time and see the data. The data cannot last only a month and a half. Is the load monitoring correctly deciphered? Why do the same injuries happen to the same man over a period of time? Repetitive injuries are a problem, whether it’s Bhuvaneshwar Kumar or Ishant Sharma.