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Injuries are an occupational hazard in cricket: Harsha Bhogle

Harsha Bhogle

Posted: Dec 30, 2011 at 1243 hrs IST

: I hope I am not the only one completely bewildered by the apparent correlation between too much cricket and the current status of injuries with various teams. As I see it, players are fit to play the World Cup till they are ruled out and the list of players now unavailable leaves me a touch puzzled.

Eoin Morgan is the latest in the list but surely you can fracture a finger playing your first game of the season, presumably being well rested, after the first few matches have been washed out! And while I sympathise with Morgan (he was, as some eagle-eyed readers would recall, among the three players I was most excited about for the future), and I believe it is a substantial loss for England, he didnít spend too much time in the middle during the Ashes. I fear with Morgan, as with a few others, we are looking at two facts and searching for a link, however tenuous it might be.

England also have trouble with Ajmal Shahzad and Tim Bresnan, neither of whom had an itinerary from hell. Bresnan made the playing eleven due to injury to Stuart Broad (whose torn abdominal muscle surfaced pretty early in the Ashes campaign) and Shahzad really didnít play much. I will admit though that the two people about whom the theory acquires some merit are Paul Collingwood and Graeme Swann and at the moment they are expected to make it. If they have to miss out, it will be as big a blow, if not bigger, as the loss of Morgan. I fear Englandís greater worry will be exhaustion rather than injury.

Indiaís loss is Praveen Kumar, again someone who hasnít had a particularly arduous time on a cricket ground. He didnít play the Tests and missed more one-day games than he played. Australia have lost Hauritz, hurting his shoulder after a fall in the deep and in any case was tempted to sell his team gear during the season, so little did he have to look forward to. His is a particularly dismal turn of fate, his selection must have felt like the sunrise after a long night.

Meanwhile Australia have lost Hussey, a tendon being ripped off is too painful to contemplate let alone experience, but typically the Aussies are taking it on the chin and not complaining of work load and things allied. And as promising as young Callum Ferguson is, the loss of the elder Hussey is a major blow with neither Cameron White nor his younger sibling providing the degree of consistency that he did. Krejza for Hauritz though seems a like-for-like swap and Australia might well go into the World Cup with Brett Lee batting at number ten. That must make it a pretty decent line up!

There are a few other players though who are crucial to their teamís fortunes and who need to be nursed through the tournament. And while viewers might fret over the rather elaborate schedule of matches, these are the players who will benefit most from it. Top of that list will be Jacques Kallis who controls the balance of the South Africans. As a batsman alone he is worth his weight in gold, or onions or 2G allotment letters, whichever is a greater asset to possess! In recent times his fitness has been a concern and he is no longer a young colt who doesnít know what it is to be tired!

Jimmy Anderson is Englandís lead bowler and showed in Australia that he can now be the same force away from home that he is in more familiar conditions. He has bowled more than anyone else and if fatigue does lead to injury, he will be the one to take care of. Australia will have a similar issue with Shane Watson who is now their most valuable, and most overworked, cricketer. When you are playing well tiredness is shown the door but a touch of cotton wool for him will be handy.

But perhaps no team will sweat over one player as much as India will over Zaheer Khan. If India look a competent bowling outfit at the World Cup it is in part due to Harbhajan Singh and largely due to Zaheer. To be fair, he has handled his recent work load pretty well but his movements in the field suggest that his time as an athlete is over. The gaps in the schedule, and the occasional mismatch in the draw, is ideal for him because India will need him absolutely ready when the quarter finals begin; when, effectively, the fear of an exit begins.

Injuries and exhaustion though are part of the landscape of the modern international cricketer. And while it must be heartbreaking to miss out on a World Cup, those that seek the benefits of playing more will have to, occasionally, suffer from the hazards of playing more!

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