Managing injuries key to pacemen's progress now: Sekar

Back-up system helping bowlers recover quickly, says former quick

Managing injuries key to pacemen's progress now: Sekar

Injuries to young fast bowlers have gone up in a disturbing rate in recent times, and that’s particularly true in the case of India and Australia.

For the Aussies, the likes of Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Jackson Bird have shown fleeting images of their immense potential, but injuries have prevented them from playing consistently in top-flight cricket.

India are not too far behind. Leading pacer Zaheer Khan suffered a calf injury and has not played since the Kolkata Test against England December last year. India have managed to complete their home assignments through an assortment of pacers in Ishant Sharma, Shami Ahmed and Bhuvneshwar Kumar but they will need more of the ilk soon when the tours away from home begin in a few months’ time.

In that context, the return of Umesh Yadav and Irfan Pathan offers a good sign. Yadav last appeared for India in the first Test against England at Ahmedabad last November and a back injury robbed him of nearly five months of international action.

Pathan was clawing his way back to the Indian team when a rather freak injury restricted him to the sidelines. The younger Pathan injured his knee in trying to get back to the crease while batting for Baroda in a Ranji Trophy game against Karnataka.

On a different era, those injuries would have taken longer time to heal or even might have endangered the career of a pacer. But in the case of Yadav and Pathan, their recovery has been quite swift thanks to the modern diagnostic and treatment systems, a point elaborated by Daredevils mentor TA Sekar, a pacer himself.

“Today, the BCCI has got a very good back-up system where these people are monitored by some of the best doctors in the business. They get their advice and if anyone has a problem, he is sent abroad. They come back with instructions and Indian physios look after them. The NCA really takes good care of the players too.”

“It’s not like when we played. If we got injured, it was like we were out of cricket and we got branded as injury-prone. But these days, if you are not fit for one series, you can take time off, recover from your injury, show that you are back in fitness and you will be picked. It’s like England or Australia or South Africa,” said Sekar.

The former India pacer also lauded the awareness of the bowlers about their rehabilitation programme. “These bowlers, when they rehab, they know exactly what to do and what not to. They bowl a lot; it’s not like they only go to the gym and do exercises. They are made to bowl much in advance. If you are playing T20 cricket, you are allowed to bowl 24 or 30 or 36 balls. If you are able to do it to the 100% level, only then are you certified fit to play a T20 game,” he said.

Sekar admitted that the IPL involves frequent travel and the teams needed to manage the workload of pace bowlers, especially of those who are coming back from injuries. However, he was quick to add that Daredevils were not rushing in Yadav and Pathan.

“Umesh played a match and got five wickets in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament. How many bowlers come back from an injury, having not played for four months, and straightaway get five wickets in a T20 match? Irfan played three matches and bowled well in all three games. They know how to look after their body because injuries are part and parcel of any fast bowler’s career. No fast bowler in the history of cricket who has bowled at over 130 kmph has gone without injuries,” he signed off.

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