India skipper Rohit Sharma has revealed that the management have given ‘certain indications’ to franchises to look after the workload of key players but conceded that, ultimately, the final call will come down to the franchises themselves, for they ‘own the players’.
Months ahead of the World Cup, team India have already been hit with three major blows in the form of injuries to Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer and there are fears that a two-month long IPL season could either put further players in the red zone, or break those who are already severely fatigued.
There have hence been calls for franchises to look after the players. In a release put out on New Year, in fact, the BCCI claimed that ‘the NCA will work in tandem with the IPL Franchises to monitor the targeted Indian players participating in the IPL 2023.’
However, Rohit made it clear that the franchises are the only ones who have a say in the same.
“It’s up to the franchises. Franchises own the players,” Rohit said on Wednesday, when asked if key players’ workload will be monitored during the IPL.
“And the players too have to look after their own body. If they feel it’s getting too much, they can always talk about it and have a break in one or two games. I doubt that will happen though.”
It is never ideal losing key players, but what’s made many question the BCCI, the NCA and those working behind the scenes is the fact that individuals ended up breaking after they were believed to have fully recovered. Both Bumrah and Iyer were given the green light by the NCA to play, and both players ended up returning too, but they immediately suffered a relapse. While Bumrah being rushed back led to him missing the 2022 T20 World Cup, Iyer now looks set to miss a good chunk of the next 4-5 months.
Rohit, however, came to the defense of the medical staff and insisted that it was simply bad luck that certain individuals ended up re-injuring themselves.
“I can vouch for it that the people working behind the scenes are working really hard with all these (injured) players. Freakish injury can happen at any point in time. The only thing we can do from our side is managing players and giving them sufficient rest and I think from our side we’re doing that,” Rohit said.
“It is concerning. And we are missing the players who are our starting XI players. But honestly, everyone’s trying their best to get the players on the park. We’ve been focusing a lot on workload management of players, which is why you keep seeing we have to rest certain players at certain point in time.
“From our side we can do our best in handling them but I’m not a specialist to tell you why the recurring injuries are happening. Of course the medical team of ours is definitely looking into all of this and making sure that, come the World Cup, we have our best 15 players ready.
“When you play so much cricket injuries are bound to happen, so not looking too much into it. We’re just trying to control what’s in our hand.”
As for the cricket, India, on Thursday, suffered their first ODI series loss at home under the leadership of Rohit as the Aussies staged a fine comeback to pocket their second ODI series win in India in four years.
There were plenty of talking points but none bigger than the hideous returns of Suryakumar Yadav, who unfathomably enough ended up scoring not one, not two, but three golden ducks in a row. In the absence of Iyer, India backed Suryakumar to succeed but the move backfired severely.
After 23 ODIs, then, Suryakumar’s numbers don’t make for great reading — 433 runs @ 24.05 — but Rohit backed the 32-year-old, who he insisted still possesses the ‘potential and quality’.
“I don’t know how much you can look into it. Got three good balls, to be honest,” Rohit said of Suryakumar.
“Probably not a great ball today, he chose the wrong shot.
“He’s an excellent player of spin in general, which is why we held him back and gave him that role in the last 15 overs where he could play his natural game. But it’s really unfortunate that he could only play three balls in the series.
“That could happen to anyone. But the potential and quality is always there. He’s just going through a bad phase right now.”
Rohit also clarified that, despite Axar Patel featuring in the side as the third spinner, the door is by no means shut on Washington Sundar.
The management’s message to the players? ‘Anyone could play anytime, everyone needs to be ready’.
“Axar I thought was in good form during the Test series, was batting well, didn’t bowl too many overs but he was batting really well. I’ve always spoken of creating that depth in our batting, which is why we played three spinners.
“Washi hasn’t gotten to play, but he gives us that option of fielding an off-spinner and he, too, can bat. So it’s all about the match-ups.
“We’ll keep all our options open. ‘Anyone could play anytime, everyone needs to be ready’ has been our message to the boys.”