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January 24, 2007

The scientific cricketer

Pakistan's medical failure

Kamran Abbasi
Shoaib Akhtar is given physio by Darryn Lifson during a practice session, Lahore, December 8, 2006
 © AFP
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"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

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Posted by tariq on (February 15, 2007, 7:48 GMT)

ever since i started contributing on the site rest of the readers probably had gone into hibernation. because they must have lost the motivation and the appetite to write bearing in mind the most abysmal performance of the pakistan cricket team the bunch of nincompoops. well how could the team perform differently than the character of the whole nation and it leaders.

Posted by tariq on (February 9, 2007, 8:06 GMT)

the action replay of the Gibbs in the 2nd odi between PAK and SA is doubtful and seems to be tailored with the help of technology to justify that the ball was going over the stumps and the umpire made the wrong decision by giving Gibbs out, where as the ball hit Gibbs on the back leg on the knee roll of the pads well below the height of the stumps. how could the ball abruptly rise vertically from the point of contact as suggested by the action replay. it gives credence to the statement of Bucknor (umpire) couple of months ago when he had questioned the credibility of action replays and stated that the action replays are deliberately at times changed to suite the reaction of the players, host teams and to malign and question the judgment of the umpire. this got to stop forthwith to maintain the sanctity of the technology help.

Posted by tariq on (February 6, 2007, 11:39 GMT)

no body has the appetite and the moral courage to write on the performance of the jokers currently performing in circus in South Africa in shape of 11 stooges of the BCCP. I told u earlier in my comments that it is all about making money and they are the horses whose reign are controlled from the PM house and the presidency through omni presence of the, coach chief selector and the chairman on such occasions.

Posted by tariq on (January 31, 2007, 8:05 GMT)

i was literally astound to one of the readers comments suggesting the patron in chief of bccp (pervez musharaf) to look in to the affairs of cricket in pakistan. i take the liberty to advise all those who contribute by writing here that all the ills happening in this country is simply because the reign of this country indirectly or directly has been in the hands of man in khakis.than how could some one think of such a stupidity of asking the president of pakistan who unfortunately also happens to be the patron in chief to do some thing good.people generally ask what next under the circumstances i usually reply status quo since that is worse what could happen.

Posted by Khalid Arif Siddiqui on (January 30, 2007, 9:10 GMT)

I just happened to watch Fakhar's programme Bolain Kiya Baat on GEO TV in which he invited Salim Altaf and Waqar Younis. The show is very good and first of its kind, very open and Fakhr means business not just mincing words, its a great effort on part of GEO to help dig out facts. Salim Altaf really was caught on a sticky wicket and clearly had no answers to what ever was asked and in perticular the case of Waqar. He was found trying to defend a lost cause through out the programme. I would like to draw the attention of the Patron In Chief of PCB to please take a note of what is going on in PCB and urge him to bring in some saner people to run this organization, for i believe that the present bunch is rubbish.

Posted by ashraf on (January 30, 2007, 8:51 GMT)

The management sould seriously cosider playing Afridi as an opener, that is where he belongs in a one day game, he might get you a zero 30% times but a 12 from the other openers is not a great lot either.Yet; he is the only one who could set a win up for you. Remember Sri lank winning the World cup with Jayasuriya. None of the openers is good enough, so might very well gamble. Present y one day ventures are not the stories of art in any case.

Posted by fit ... fit for what on (January 28, 2007, 18:30 GMT)

Yes Khan, could be a good team ... oh - and if not all drugged up!

Although looking at their onfield behaviour today, on drugs is a possibility ... imagine walking up to the umpire and questioning his descision!!! WTF !!!

Don't think your plot would have worked though, SA may have decided to play their better players instead of resting them, so grass or no grass, doesn't matter.

Posted by Niaz Khan on (January 28, 2007, 7:49 GMT)

Shoab now and then gets unfit and creates some news. He should be more prfoessional instead he is more a "show man". I wonder why Imran Khan supports him although Shoab does not even bother that he being watched the world-over for his spat with Bob Woolmer. He does seem to care.I do not when he would learn? Do you?

Posted by Khan on (January 27, 2007, 22:08 GMT)

Just imagine our team, if all our players are physically fit AND MOST importantly our selectors are mentally fit....

Just a Thought.

The team management made a BIG mistake by sending Shoaib Akhter back, they should have created an impression that he will be fit by the third test and will play the third test and in the morning of third test declare that he is still unfit.

Beleive U me there would have been NO grass on the pitch!!

Posted by monk on (January 27, 2007, 18:13 GMT)

I wonder when the stupid people of this country will begin to sit up and realise what the state of affairs truly is in our country. The malady that we all see in cricket is just a mirror of what happens in every sphere. I just question what we are paying the foreign experts for when every tour, several key players go unfit. If we had paki experts, i would understand, because they are and would be as stupid as the rest of us , but these "foreign" shld be better qualified to know when someone is fit or not!!!. That is not to deny the fact, that our Selection Committee, headed by the erstwhile Wasim Bari (an ass of the first class!) Ehteshamuddin ( the guy who played 3 tests in his overweight career), and Iqbal Qasim (great spinner, but to be on the selection committee?), and these 3 "wise men" have been running the reigns of who plays or not for the past so many years?? and no one has been able to throw them off ???..I have played, and watched cricket now for 40years, and what is happening is only a mirror of what is happening in Pakistan as a whole. As the adage for Democracy goes " To the Fools, by the Fools, for the Fools". Apologies to all our hot head readers, i love Pakistan as much as you do, i just like to call a Spade a Spade

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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