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Co-ordination key to access India’s hurt locker

Shreyas Iyer joins Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna in the list of players to have broken down in recent past after being declared fit by NCA

Indranil Majumdar Calcutta Published 17.03.23, 04:41 AM
Shreyas Iyer.

Shreyas Iyer. File picture

Shreyas Iyer’s lower back injury has again put the focus on the National Cricket Academy (NCA)’s sports science and sports medicine unit, headed by former Team India physio Nitin Patel, which looks after the players’ rehab programme.

Iyer, the Indian middle-order batter who returned to the team for the second Test against Australia following an injury lay-off since the Bangladesh tour in December, now faces surgery. He joins Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna in the list of players to have broken down in the recent past after being declared fit by the NCA.


It is understood that following the uproar, the BCCI is considering an overhaul of the sports science and sports medicine unit members at the NCA. Patel had taken charge at the NCA in November last year but has failed to turn things around.

Patel, who is believed to be close to an influential Board member, has been facing much of the flak for the loopholes in the system. The competence of the staff has also been questioned since the departure of some of the old hands.

More specifically, there seems to be a gaping hole in the training methodology and recovery protocols between Team India support staff and the NCA. Sources in the know told The Telegraph that the absence of an open line of communication between all parties involved has been responsible for this mess. This has also led to the Indian team management voicing their grievances to the NCA.

Ashish Kaushik, NCA’s former head physio who quit in 2021 after having spent more than a decade, believes proper co-ordination could solve this crisis.

“While injuries are a part and parcel of a player’s life, there are two facets which are vital — injury incidence and injury management. Injury incidence refers to the regular occurrences of injuries and there is no way to prevent them in any sport.

“As for injury management, the NCA is well equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. It has requisite man-power in qualified physios and doctors. But it is not all about the NCA. We have to ensure that the right kind of support staff is available at the local level. The co-ordination should also involve the IPL support staff and the ones at the state level. That will ensure right kind of injury management and better co-ordination,” Kaushik told The Telegraph.

“The IPL support staff is there for only 2/3 months and their objective is different. They concentrate only on the tournament. The accountability is different as they leave the player for the rest of the year.”

Kaushik highlighted the importance of the injury management aspect while raising some vital questions about the NCA’s efficacy.

“The longevity of the rehab needs to be looked into carefully. At the NCA or the India team, the post-rehab process happens. By looking into the biomechanics of the players’ movement, we must analyse the risk of injury management.

“We need to check if our rehab is symptomatic in nature, which means are the symptoms being analysed or is the root cause being addressed... Root cause could be the workload or rehab or training methods.”

“Injuries are not a worry, but breaking down after treatment and rehab is a cause for concern. The NCA management needs to delve deep into it. We need to see if regular assessment is being done to highlight the risk of injuries to the players concerned. Quarterly screening is essential, and once highlighted, it has to be prevented by taking suitable measures.

“The question remains, is the NCA infrastructure being used to screen players on a regular basis? The process has to be followed in continuity to prevent injuries and has to be watertight. It should involve all the parties — the NCA, the India team, the IPL franchises and even at the state level. Only then can the process be considered foolproof and complete,” Kaushik argued.

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