Rohit Sharma’s injury: How is the fitness of BCCI-contracted cricketers monitored in IPL?

Confusion continues over Rohit Sharma's availability for India’s tour of Australia starting later this month. What exactly is Rohit’s injury? Why is there confusion? Did any other BCCI-contracted players suffer injuries during the IPL?

Confusion continues over Rohit Sharma’s availability for India’s tour of Australia starting later this month. Sharma had sustained an injury while leading Mumbai Indians in the IPL and was not picked when the Indian team was announced. But he then played an IPL game. So how is the fitness of centrally-contracted players monitored during the IPL?

What exactly is Rohit’s injury?

On October 26, when the national selectors announced the Indian squads for the Australia series, Rohit was the notable omission. The official release only said: “The BCCI Medical Team will continue to monitor the progress of Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma.”

According to BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, Rohit suffered a hamstring tear, PTI reported. Ganguly also cautioned Rohit against hastening his comeback.

The MI captain suffered the injury during their game against Kings XI Punjab on October 18. He missed the next four matches, with Kieron Pollard leading the side. In MI’s final group league fixture against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday, Rohit returned to lead the team. He also played in the first qualifier against Delhi Capitals on Thursday.

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When asked at the toss on Tuesday: “Is everything fit and fine with you?’, he replied: “Yeah, looks like that.” Rohit underwent a fitness test before the game against SRH.

So why is there confusion?

Because there’s no official word yet from BCCI on the issue. India’s first match in Australia is on November 27. Three ODIs will be followed by three T20 Internationals and four Tests.

While the national selection committee didn’t consider Rohit fit enough to be part of the squads, he is playing matches for his franchise. A top BCCI official told The Indian Express: “If Rohit is fit, he walks into the team. There must be fitness concerns because of which the selectors didn’t pick him.”

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BCCI chief selectors are traditionally authorised to communicate to the media but chief selector Sunil Joshi is tight-lipped on the issue. MI, too, haven’t said a word other than posting Rohit’s practice pictures and clips.

Ganguly told PTI: “Rohit himself knows that he has got a long career ahead and it’s not just this IPL or next series for him. I am sure he is mature enough to do what is best for him.”

Did any other BCCI-contracted players suffer injuries during the IPL?

Ishant Sharma was ruled out of the IPL with an abdominal muscle tear. Fellow pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar was ruled out with a thigh muscle injury.

Their franchises, Delhi Capitals and SRH respectively, put out press releases confirming the injuries. Both Sharma and Kumar are now doing their rehab at the National Cricket Academy (NCA).

How is the fitness of BCCI-contracted cricketers monitored during the IPL?

According to a franchise chief executive, it is monitored by the physios of the respective franchises. If there’s an injury, it is reported to the Indian team/BCCI physio. From then on, the franchise physio monitors the player’s fitness in coordination with the BCCI physio.

Does the BCCI physio oversee the fitness management of contracted players in case of injuries?

No. The chief executive explained that the franchise physio sends reports to the BCCI physio, and the latter follows it up with his advice in terms of deciding the future course of action.

If a player has a history of fitness issues, does he keep in touch with the BCCI physio during the IPL?

According to the chief executive, every IPL team conducts its own fitness tests during the pre-season camp. If a player has an alarming fitness history, he carries the record of his previous injuries. If need be, the franchise physio communicates with the BCCI physio.

A contracted player can personally get in touch with the BCCI physio, although it requires the approval of the team management and team physio because, during the IPL, players are owned by their respective franchises.

Has there been an occasion earlier of a contracted player getting injured during the IPL and missing an India assignment?

In 2011, then Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir had aggravated a shoulder injury that he sustained during the World Cup final against Sri Lanka.

After Gambhir played the IPL Eliminator against MI, then KKR trainer Andrew Leipus had written to the BCCI, elaborating on the nature of the injury. Leipus had also advised Gambhir four to six weeks’ rest.

India were to tour West Indies after the IPL and, in M S Dhoni’s absence (he had opted out), Gambhir had been named captain for the limited-overs leg of the tour. But with the injury forcing him to miss the series, Suresh Raina led India in a one-off T20I and five ODIs.

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