Management of Injury Epidemic in Cricket: Responsibility of Cricket Administrators?

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Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer khan, Irfan Pathan, Laxmipathy Balaji, Ashish Nehra, Venkatesh Prasad, Salil Ankola, Doda Ganesh, Abey Kuruvilla, Chetan Sharma….the list of the number of bowlers that have been injured playing for the country is endless. And even though batsmanship has a relatively low risk injury potential, Sachin Tendulkar, has probably injured most parts in his body while playing cricket.

Cricket is one of the oldest team sports known to mankind. More recently, its intensity and popularity has soared immensely, both in terms of fan following as well as earning potential. The resultant fast pace is making cricketers some of the most injury prone amongst all sportsmen.

Epidemiological studies have found that bowling, fielding and wicket keeping account for most of the injuries in cricket. Research clearly states that lower back injuries occur in a whopping 60% of cricketers. Lower back injury in fast bowlers is considered as one of the most injury prone non-contact activities in sports. The high incidence of lower back injuries in fast bowlers had been referred to by some as an epidemic. In most cases, complete rest is recommended along with rehab and subtle modifications to the actions to reduce stress on the back. Although, some good does come out of fine tuning the action of a bowler to prevent injury, in the long run, poor action may prove to be a lesser of an evil than poor management of the bowler form his teens. Work load seems to be the bigger culprit in the breaking down of fast bowlers. Also, undertaking scientific studies to define the exact amount of work load that might cause injury to a fast bowler and designing methods for proper management of fast bowlers from the early years may go a long way in allowing them in having ‘pain free’ careers.

It is indeed sad that despite being one of the richest cricket boards in the world, BCCI has done little to look into injury aspect in cricket. Australia, South Africa, England, New Zealand and even the West Indies are miles ahead as far as injury surveillance and prevention programs are concerned. BCCI should conduct research into the high incidence of injuries and figure out the likely causes.In the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy as well in the recently concluded ICC World Twenty 20 in England, India’s chances were severely dented due to key players getting injured. After all, cricket fans would much rather see a fit Virender Sehwag hit sixes day in and day out or Irfan Pathan bowl fast late in swinging deliveries rather than get injured and sit out. Cricket administers have to take the blame for too much cricket being played at the moment. Rotation policy for selection of players or separate teams for different formats will help till such a time as prevalence of injuries is drastically brought down by successful designing and implementation of interventions.

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