John Gloster puts together extensive 14-page report January 1, 2008

India physio hits out at injury management


Sreesanth's shoulder injury has been singled out in John Gloster's report © AFP
India's cricketers are under constant fire and the recent massive loss in Melbourne will only focus criticism but a recent report by John Gloster, the team physiotherapist, has revealed that most players are forced to go through games carrying niggles because there is simply no time for them to either recover from injuries or do the rehabilitation work needed.

The BCCI has been made aware of the problems the players suffer, but little is being done to redress the problems. Gloster, in his 14-page report that spells out these problems, highlights that the teams suffer from a "high percentage of 'niggles' and treatable injuries," and has explained these in detail in the weekly injury reports submitted to the board as a matter of course. "Tour schedule and lack of personal conditioning of 'risk areas' for each player," are highlighted by Gloster in his detailed report.

Gloster, not for the first time, has laid out what needs to be done. In his report he states emphatically:

"The best way to prevent is to allow the players 2 things:

1. adequate time for physical conditioning built into itineraries between tours
2. greater rest, rehab and conditioning phases between tours. This particularly relevant for those players playing both forms of the game and never being able to sufficiently rest and recover from 'niggles'. This has meant that a number of players are consistently carrying problems from tour to tour."

While making a strong general point about injury management Gloster has referred specifically to injuries that key players suffered during the last five-ODI and three-Test series against Pakistan. Sreesanth (shoulder strain), RP Singh (side strain), Munaf Patel (lower back strain), Zaheer Khan (plantar facia tear), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (ankle injury), Sachin Tendulkar (knee tendonitis) were all forced to miss matches at some stage because of their injuries.

What is especially worrisome is the fact that two of these players were omitted in the early stages with specific instructions of doing work needed to get them match fit as quickly as possible. Gloster admits that these injuries "highlight some shortcomings in the injury management system." RP Singh and Sreesanth were sent back with "specific instructions for their rehab but no follow-up treatment, advise, progression or re-assessment as where they are situated (Rai Bareilly and Cochin), have no physios and trainers to supervise their rehab and conditioning. Ie (that is) in a way are falling through our protective net."

Gloster does not mince words when he reacts to the criticism the team has received. "I read and hear much about our fast bowlers and their constant injury status etc but once they leave our 'fold' their management, rehab, training and conditioning becomes limited especially when both the national trainer and physio are away on tours."

Gloster goes on to state that he has given a comprehensive solution to this existing problem. "The proposal we have submitted for the use of the facilities now being instigated at the NCA I feel will fill this void significantly. In place now at this institution will be a structure that will support the national team very comfortably, especially for those players leaving a tour due to injury as well as for those joining a tour having returned from an injury layoff.

"The presence of a full time physio and trainer as well as availability of specialised technical advice will mean a more comprehensive recovery package for the player. This will also mean that players prior to arriving on tours will also be better physically conditioned and ready for the physical challenges placed upon them."

Anand Vasu is an associate editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricinfo on January 3, 2008, 19:07 GMT

    In response to "aardvark".... baseball is a definitely a sport.... not sure if you understand it enough?

    International sports/teams(Includes Australia in Cricket) have progressed in fitness way beyond the fitness levels in India for cricket.

    Cricket definitely needs to have a "season", there are a lot of meaningless games. Having a season will help these players develop in the "off-season", both their skills and fitness.

  • aardvark on January 3, 2008, 18:48 GMT

    Athletes - yes. I like that word - my man vnb4u has spoken - We do have a lot of athletes - Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh, Ramesh Powar, Munaf even some among the budding "stars" (I heard Joginder Sharma sweat it out on a Zee sports show singing a song) When we do see these guys "athletically" fit and giving 100% in every game, then we can support them and blame schedules etc. Until then, its **THEIR** fitness to blame and not the schedules or the board. How many games in the packed schedule over the last 18 months have the athletes named above given their 100% intensity and emotion? - Maybe some hard training and dog-to-dog talk would get them to do that. I've had a long standing bet with my dad - If India bowls 2 consecutive innings in a one-day game bowling second and concedes less than 35 in 6 overs, I owe him Rs.5000. Till date, I can count my lost bets on one hand...AND YES THIS DOES HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH THEIR FITNESS...

  • aardvark on January 2, 2008, 21:42 GMT

    a lot of indian people go abroad (especially the United States) and see other sports, the glamour and razzmatazz and start comparing it with international sports - but the fact is that games like Baseball are a joke. "Baseball pitchers are carefully rotated and rested...blah blah". Anybody who think thats even a game can come and see me. The bottomline is: Cricket is a tough sport - to be played tough. in many ways, its the art of ancient war. But our people don't play it that way - no emphasis is made on physical fitness in the society, and I have better arms than most of the indian cricket team players. I bet you our players can sing better than any international cricket team lol - so don't blame the board...its the society folks..some of these sportsmen have to know it, admit it, set themselves high standards and make a move to become better. One guy who does have a bit of conscience - Rahul Dravid

  • Nagabhushan on January 2, 2008, 13:15 GMT

    Who do you think is to blame for the high percentage of injuries suffered by "Indian players"?

    I think the reason is that almost all the players are in the team because of their cricketing talents. As they were growing up their only focus was to improve their batting/bowling skills. Now what I am saying, obviously they need them. But, I think for any sportsperson to be succesfull or to be one of the best, he/she has to be a very good athlete as well. So for all the young aspirants of any sport, the coaching team should focus equally between the sport skills and making them physically stronger. That will only enhance their sport skills. For say in cricket, it can help one to be 1. better player, 2. more focus on the game, 3. better fielder, 4. less injuries, 5. quick recovery from injuries..... It will be tough to change once anyone is 20+ and have their own unique styles...

  • Jack on January 2, 2008, 12:35 GMT

    This issue is nothing but player burnout. If you observe the "Future Tours Program" on the ICC official Website, from DLF Cup(tri series) in 2006 to the present IND-AUS series the largest break India got was only 1 month before England Series 07 and that too only once for a span of 1.5 years. Just think of the players, if a player thinks that theres something wrong in his bowling or batting technique and if he wants to improve then there is no time for that, because they are hardly getting any time to relax then how can they find time to improve. As a result the player tries too much and stresses much more in the nets or matches, which leads to injuries etc etc. If the player goes out intentionally to relax or improve himself then he has to face infinite number of interviews from the media answering every question.

  • anjum on January 2, 2008, 10:45 GMT

    Its time BCCI open up their eyes to the needs of their players. BCCI guys, please treat them as Professionals and not as labourers. Treat them with care, because they are not just pride of India, but BCCI's bread and butter. Please bring in specialists on Stress Management, Anger Management, Injury Management and set up Sports clinics (of International Standard and Repute) one in each state of India. Make the guys aware that they (players) are not Orphans in a Orphanage called BCCI but you are their guardians and caretakers. BCCI, have some mercy on these players. Remember, just money is not everything. Use the Unaudited, Unaccounted money you have in BCCI accounts, for these guys. Give them the facilities they need and make them realise that they are not alone (as Orphans) there in the ground. Our cricketers, cheer up, a billion countrymen are behind you, with you, for you to support you. Good luck in all your endeavours. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL THERE AT CRICINFO.COM and one and all....

  • A on January 2, 2008, 2:31 GMT

    I never see a shortage of people complaining brainlessly about a system - like the bunch above. Not one has a good thing to say about the very fact that BCCI allowed for views to be aired by the person who matters - the trainer. He's pointed out a flaw in the system (all good learning systems have flaws and importantly flaw correcting mechanisms and this report is a good example). What remains to be seen is what gets done about this - not just go on airing moronic views (probably more of their own frustrations) before giving BCCI any time to react. If one has to criticize BCCI then you want to pick their hedgemony and monopoly mogering ways - viz. the handling of ICL players, the handling of finance (not disclosing balance sheets and P/L statements) and handling of ex-players. Those are the areas where BCCI being such a powerful body - whose actions have repurcussions the world over - makes a sorry figures.

  • Aninda on January 1, 2008, 19:48 GMT

    As a physician, I absolutely agree with Mr. Gloster's observations and recommendations for the players. A common refrain heard about some players is that they are not training hard enough to prevent injuries but there are limits to that as well. One may train as hard as possible but any injury needs a certain recovery time. When these players have to (or made to) play with injuries at this highest level, it can only lead to sub-optimal performances owing to further aggravation of these injuries. The BCCI cannot afford to kill their golden goose through some mind boggling itineraries just to line its coffers. The long injury list of the Pakistani side in the just concluded Indo-Pak series just highlights the extent of the problem among teams from the Indian sub-continent. I hope good objective thinking will prevail among the powers that be in the BCCI to extend the longevity of the players in the Indian side.

  • Kartik on January 1, 2008, 13:07 GMT

    The best case-in-point would be that of Lakshmipathy Balaji. He performed well in Pakistan and in Australia four years ago and could have easily been one of India's bowling mainstays. But after his injury a year ago he is simply not to be seen or heard of. I think that the other bowlers feel a similar fate awaits them if they miss matches due to injuries.

    Its also high time that the BCCI made up its mind on Munaf Patel. The guy needs treatment on his back and a helluva big knock on his head. "At his best he is a bowler in the McGrath mould". Please Sunny Gavaskar, call a spade a spade.

  • SPS1 on January 1, 2008, 10:03 GMT

    While injury management is very technical to understand, we can grant that the Board and the team management may not understand that. But what is utterly unexplainable is why did Zaheer Khan, R P Singh, Sreesanth, Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul play the ODI series? Why ? - It was not the World Cup, and India-Pakistan series these days happen quite often and do not carry "that" level of romance or rivalry. So why did they - knowing fully well - that there is a 3 match Test series coming up to be played on dead pitches - why did they play the ODI series at all?? It would have been the perfect opportunity to rest all these fast bowlers and give youngsters a full 5 match run. It does not require a physio or a manager or a coach to take these simple decisions - but then again - I forget - India and Pakistan Boards do not believe in keeping it simple....

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