Makarand Waingankar

Is Zaheer Khan a victim of his reckless act of playing when not fit? Or was he asked by the team management to make himself available for the T20 World Championship? This is something only he can answer.

Whatever may be the reason, the fact is he will not be fit enough to bowl for another six months. When he couldn’t play after the shoulder injury during the IPL match, why was he picked for the T20 World Championship?

The Indian captain was quite forthright in saying during the press conference before the departure for England that as far as he was concerned, Zaheer Khan was unfit. He reiterated this when speaking to media in England immediately after landing. It’s clear that unless he was declared fit by the team doctor Nitin Patel, the selection committee could not have picked Zaheer Khan for the England tour.

What would be interesting to know is what made Dr. Patel declare Zaheer fit to play for a couple of matches? In Indian cricket it’s the player’s wish to play or not that pressurises the team doctor to take a decision.

The most intriguing part is that though there is a set up at the NCA for the fitness testing, the busy schedule of the players (and they are not even playing) forced the BCCI to conduct fitness testing at Delhi and Mumbai. Why have two full time South African physios at the NCA and not use their services for the fitness tests of Indian players? As the BCCI Sports Medicine consultant Dr. Anant Joshi says there has to be a state-of-the-art sports medicine centre and it should have zonal branches so that a proper fitness process is adhered to. Contrary to the belief that only Indian cricketers are playing too many matches compared to others, most of the Indian fast bowlers don’t even play a full season because of injuries.

There is also a major problem of medical protocol. If Dr. Joshi is the BCCI consultant and is the BCCI’s representative on the ICC medical panel, then he needs to be consulted in all cases of injuries. How can a team doctor refer Zaheer Khan to the doctor abroad when Dr. Joshi is not even aware of it?

There is a perception that many of the Indian international fast bowlers don’t take adequate care of themselves as far as fitness is concerned but we don’t have an online monitoring system as England, South Africa and Australia do.

And the BCCI is supposed to be the richest board in the ICC!

To have the system in place there should not be any objection like players have for WADA. The process will keep the BCCI consultant, physios and trainers involved and devise a method that will help players immensely.

No player would like to be unfit. It’s just that they don’t have the correct system and process in place to monitor their fitness.

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