Injuries are a part of sport. That said, in a non-contact sport like cricket, one would never have thought of injuries occurring at an alarming frequency as has been witnessed in recent years. But given the frenetic schedules and the plethora of high-intensity matches, the bodies are overworked.
And without proper rest and recuperation, players succumb to injuries in a heap. Methods to prevent injuries are a mere eyewash and myopic vision takes over thereafter. Players are thus sacrificed as they burn out and end up listless and lost.
The injured players may well consider it as an occupational hazard and move on; and more often than not, they do just that as they have no choice but to move on.The truth, however, is that the candle is burnt up at both sides in the hope of brighter illumination by the "bodies of vested interests".
Alas, careers are shortened dramatically and cruelly. As it is, the shelf life of a top-flight sportsman is minuscule in the context of one's life and not for nothing does the old cliche, “one is retired a long time in sports” sound menacingly true.
Take the case of Murali Vijay, Ravi Ashwin, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli. Then there are the tiny niggles endured by Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh Yadav. While the surgeon’s scalpel awaits some, the others are driven to hibernation and rest. Their never ending season started in the Caribbean last year and is still underway – such has been the rigour that they’ve been subject to.
Never before have four touring sides visited India in a season like they did in 2016-2017. With the administrators dishing out a packed itinerary, Test matches were held at far-flung venues across the length and breadth of the country. That they nearly killed the proverbial goose in the process is reflected in the number of regulars rendered hors de combat.
And one is not even counting the regular external injuries that players combat during the matches. These players literally have to be wrapped in cotton wool to get their best performances out on a consistent basis.
One can't help but sympathise with the fate of these modern day cricketers who eschew so much of life by way of blinkered discipline that involves phenomenal socio-family sacrifices to optimise their output. It is a huge shame that they can't have a say on the ceaseless cricket calendar churned out. Plenty of travel across a vast land only compounds their already crippled bodies that constantly crave for rest.
That said, the modern day cricketers have never had it any better in terms of sports medicine, support staffs and the prevalence of general awareness to fitness. Such has been the revolution in biomechanics and such related subjects that a player's knowledge on such matters is at an all time high. After all, it helps to retain the effervescence. And once the fresh spirit is retained, joie de vivre spreads for a long and enjoyable haul.
Playing through pain can exacerbate the condition
If only the latest Indian season were less crowded, the number of injured players may well have dwindled. The IPL franchises are now feeling the heat. Having planned their strategies around their stars, the franchises have suddenly come unstuck.
Players like Ashwin, Vijay and Rahul played through intense pain to stay in their blinkered vision and one hopes that in doing so, they have not exacerbated their fragile medical conditions. Some bodies are inherently predisposed to frequent injuries and without adequate rest, the vulnerable player runs the risk of greater damage.
The allure to play without a break with childish (read mindless) enthusiasm, while not wanting to abdicate their spot to another member is an often seen phenomenon. Thus an insecure mind, captivated by short term glory, shoots itself in the foot.
It is another matter that there are adequate replacements in a cricket crazy country teeming with "dreamy youngsters". They ooze talent and can't wait to step up and carve out their own careers on a high octane platform like the IPL.
The franchises, therefore, aren't always hard pressed. That the IPL attracts global audiences with its built-in glitz and razzmatazz, is an added incentive for these young-uns to dream and look to fill the shoes of their heroes. All the more reason then for top flight players to plan their own calendars.
Dealing with the problem
As prevention of injuries is at a nascent stage as a study, one senses that with adequate warm ups and sufficient pre-habilitation, the anxiety and the pain of a slow rehab can be avoided.
The only way these injured cricketers can approach this enforced long layoff is to be grimly stoic and philosophical about it all. Reckoning it as well earned rest to get fitter in the process could be one way of approaching the phase.
It sure can be a lonely period of recovery for these cricketers who love the rush and the buzz of the adrenalin-induced competition and yet due to the overstretched schedules, they are sore victims of it.
Perils of modern day sportsmen loom large for there can be nothing more soul destroying than to watch players endure the misery of not pursuing their well-honed skill sets and being denied the basic joys of playing a sport they excel in – particularly with the onset of the IPL.
Sad, but the bitter truth engulfs the injured players. Unless the cricket bodies look at this aspect of frenetic, stretched schedules with a kind consideration, I am afraid, player injuries may well become the norm of the future.