Bikash Singh

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Bikash still thinks cricket's a gentleman's game. And that our batsmen run away with most of the prizes.

Do You Hear The Alarm Bells, BCCI?

Injury is not an Indian phenomena, it is a world-wide thing. Yes, Indian players are over-worked as they don't get rest at all but some of them who play non-stop will need to take time off regularly to prolong their careers - Sanjay Manjrekar

Did anybody say anything about burnout, overworked players or cramped schedules? Well, the Board of Control for Cricket in India is neither listening nor bothered until the money is coming and the sponsors remain happy. After the unwelcome result against New Zealand in the opening match of the tri-series, a concerned Indian team management decided to raise the issue to their masters on reducing the burden. With the World Cup not so far away and Champions League, Australia in India, New Zealand in India and India in South Africa in the middle, the workload issue needs to be carefully deliberated.

One may argue about these chosen ones being professionals and all that, but you cannot discount that fact that they are only human beings and need appropriate rest. I am not getting into the debate of how much they earn and so should compensate by playing in every match and win those - just that we could have avoided the overkill of India's love-affair with Sri Lanka - keeping in mind the World Cup. Bhajji joked, 'we have played each other almost every second month in the last eight months'.

Despite hanging on to their No.1 status in Tests, the Indian side is plagued by injuries. There was hardly any space between the Test series and starting of the tri-series. We finished the Tests on August 7 and bang came New Zealand on August 10. After five days of grueling sun-bathing - pressure to draw the series - all they got was two days. At least Sri Lankans enjoyed some rest. With commerce dictating the terms, players are bound to feel the heat. But alarm bells are ringing buddy, just have a look at some of the top players missing in action for quite some time...

Zaheer Khan: India's most consistent and match-winning bowler Zaheer Khan has been out of action for quite long. His series of injuries varying from shoulder to leg forced him to miss the Test series against Sri Lanka which India managed to draw level. The left-arm pacer is critical to India's chances in the home Test series against Australia and most importantly the World Cup. Zak underwent major shoulder surgery in South Africa last year.

Harbhajan Singh: The Indian off-spinner has had his share of injuries which started bothering him during the Australia Test series. The side strain and calf problem forced him out of the third Test against Sri Lanka and eventually out of the tri-series. His full-strength contribution is what India needs during the forthcoming matches.

Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth: One of India's brightest pace bowlers Ishant Sharma has been constantly battling with his ankle and shoulder problems. Sreesanth on the other hand shares the same platform with ankle and back injuries. These pacemen have been in and out on longish breaks due to persistent obstacles in their short career and the team is desperate to have them back to assert their credentials as a world-class bunch.

Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni are other names in this burgeoning list. It is difficult to look beyond these names in preparation for the World Cup. The Indian think-tank has some serious issues to address - that, or be prepared to stare a full-fledged negative development in the face, like another early ouster.

Are Indian pacers shrinking?

Some of them who do not figure in the list are stretched to the limit and are playing with some niggle or the other as the rotation policy clashes with broadcasters and sponsors' demand for the top players on the field.

If Dhoni and co have raised the concern about fitness levels and workload, the issue needs to be worked on - at the end of the day, they are the ones answerable for the outcome of a match. The Indian cricket board should have the itinerary in a structured way and divide the workload on who plays in a particular format. There has to be a connect between the captain and selectors in regard to resting key players, rotating pacers and avoiding inconsequential games within the strength of the team to ensure fair results.

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