The scientific cricketer January 24, 2007

Pakistan's medical failure

"No doctor is better than three," according to a German proverb. The PCB has one at its head, another running its media and communications, and several more on its preposterous medical board of inquiry, which by my calculation is some way beyond three and a firm indication that the health of Pakistan's cricketers must be in a bad way--and it is.

My hypothesis is that Pakistan has the biggest injury problem in international cricket, and I'm sure one of the clever souls who visit this blog will be able to produce the evidence. That's before we begin a debate on the players' education about performance-enhancing drugs and the shambolic monitoring procedure of last year (let's not restart that particular debate here, you can comment on it elsewhere).

The ongoing saga of injuries to Pakistan's players is diabolocial. It seems few people know who is fit and who isn't. Fewer people know why anybody might be unfit. And nobody seems to know how to make anybody who is unfit fit again.

Sports science is a growing medical specialty. More research is being done. More evidence is available. Our shrinking and interconnected world allows greater sharing of knowledge and experts. Yet in Pakistan we have a medical board of inquiry that seems unable to prevent, manage, or cure the ailments of any of its prize patients.

The simple question I ask is would a business tolerate such a dismal success rate? Another question I ask is would any of you trust your treatment and your rehabilitation to this bunch of "experts." Inevitably, the PCB will say that it isn't responsible for the irresponsible behaviour of its player patients. The PCB will say that it is doing everything it can, and the medical board of inquiry is testament to that, as is its willingness to send players abroad for diagnosis and treatment. The PCB will say that this situation is a consequence of the modern game.

But I would say that those are excuses. The failure of the PCB's medical management is too persistent and too inexcusable for it to be tolerated any longer. Like any responsible employer, the PCB should seek a second opinion on its processes and its personnel. The present system is clearly not working.

By offering my opinion I am unfortunately adding to the peculiar preponderance of doctors associated with Pakistan cricket. But, then again, if I don't say this who will?

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here