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Amid the rising number of injury concerns in Indian cricket, a member of Team India’s support staff from the 2011 World Cup has weighed in on the ‘specialist players’ debate surrounding the Men in Blue. As the Indian cricket team continues to grapple the severity of their top players getting injured, the need to divide their workload as per series and participation in formats has taken utmost precedence. By the look of, going forward the Indian T20I team will wear a completely younger and fresher look, but as far as the ODIs and T20Is are concerned, it is expected that a certain set of senior players such as Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and more will continue to feature in both.
Ramji Srinivasan, who was Team India’s strength and conditioning coach during the 2011 World Cup, and looked after the fitness of MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and others, has pointed out that while the matter of singling out specialist players for each format is a call that ultimately rests of the shoulders of the selectors, the fitness of those featuring regularly in all three needs to be prioritised and monitored rather carefully.
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“This question has been lingering around for a lot of time. Picking specialists for each format is a call that has to be taken by the selectors and the coaching staff. But if the selectors decide that a player is going to feature in all three formats, it is the duty of the strength and conditioning coach to keep the player fit. There is nothing wrong in players featuring in all three formats. Don’t forget, 10 years ago, you had MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan featuring in all three formats. Players understood their body and were smart enough to know what worked for them. And they shouldn’t follow what an S&C says blindly. They should ask questions,” Srinivasan wrote for The Indian Express.
“Playing three formats is an evolution of the game and as far as fitness goes, everything is possible. But for that, testing, screening, training, plan & travel and diet schedule have to be finalised accordingly. There will be players who are equipped to play all three formats and only skill should determine it, not fitness. If there is an all-format player, he has to be trained accordingly. And as a player ages, one has to factor in that as well. Virat Kohli can’t be following the same process now that he was doing four years ago.
At the T20 World Cup, India missed the services of two of their star performers – Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah – both of whom were ruled out of the premier ICC tournament due to respective injuries. To make matters worse, Rohit and Deepak Chahar picked up injuries of their own during the Bangladesh ODI series, while Mohammed Shami damaged his shoulder even before the tour began. With another World Cup year approaching, if India are to make sure their top players remain injury free, Srinivasan has advised several suggestions, starting with open communication and accountability.
“You need to have an open line of communication between all the trainers – Indian team, Ranji Trophy, IPL or India A – and work in tandem. Too much information can also cause problems. A set protocol has to be in place for testing, screening and methodology in training,” he added.
“After every IPL, it is common to see players gaining weight, fatigue, mental fatigue because of tension and travel. Someone has to take responsibility for the fitness of a player. This has to start from the Under-14 level. Setting up the process, template for a fitness programme is essential, or else we are just going to be shooting in the dark.”
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