Iyer is the latest to have joined a fairly long list of players who have broken down during a match after having been declared fit by the NCA. The board has also maintained secrecy over Jasprit Bumrah’s surgery in New Zealand. The team management was already frustrated by Deepak Chahar’s frequent breakdowns.
The team management and national selectors had decided in January that they will be playing a core group of around 18-20 players leading up to the ODI World Cup, after they came under heavy criticism for rotating too many players last year before the T20 World Cup.
“How does one expect to play with a core group when the primary players are breaking down despite such thorough workload management? The issue is being raised with NCA. The team management and the selectors are back to creating a set of backup players now. There has to be someone accountable for this,” a source told TOI.
Besides Bumrah, Iyer and Chahar, the team management had identified Prasidh Krishna to be groomed for the ODI World Cup. As it turned out, he too has undergone a back surgery and will be missing the IPL. The board had decided that players would have to prove their match fitness in domestic cricket but that was not adhered to in the case of Iyer.
What’s baffling for the men in charge is that there are very few players who barely play even 30 international matches a year. Krishna has not played a single competitive game since an ODI in Zimbabwe last August.
There were suggestions made last year that Bumrah should undergo surgery but that was delayed keeping the T20 World Cup in mind. The NCA waited on Krishna to recover through rehab but he eventually had to undergo surgery.
The BCCI had rejigged the entire structure at NCA last year when Nitin Patel was elevated from Team India’s physio to head of sports science and sports medicine ahead of three other strong contenders.
There is a dedicated team that works on ‘return to play’ of players.
“These injuries that are happening now are serious ones. They would require a lot of time to recover and be back in full flow. Making a settled team has become a challenge. The NCA has taken charge of ‘targeted’ and ‘emerging’ players in the state sides.
“To have a situation where you play these players directly in big tournaments is not ideal. The selectors were still fine with Bumrah even playing directly in the World Cup but to have a group of such players is unpleasant,” the source added.
The team management is also not sure about the next line of pacers. There have been a few picked for the Indian team but injuries have been frequent. Avesh Khan, who was sidelined after the Asia Cup last September, broke down in the middle of a Ranji Trophy season while bowling really well. He went back to NCA and rejoined the Madhya Pradesh team in the later part of the tournament.
Indian cricket has tried to hit the reset button and altered its preparation post the disappointment of the last T20 World Cup. The team management is trying to correct the mistakes. It’s time the NCA provided support.