December 5, 2011

Harbhajan's injured? Go figure

Would his condition have come to light if he had been picked for the Australia tour? And why does the BCCI manage player injuries so poorly?
97

I am a little surprised the news that Harbhajan Singh was dropped from the tour of Australia and then missed his next Ranji Trophy game because of a shin injury didn't make the headlines it should have. A week later, we learn he may be out for a long time because the scans have revealed the injury is a lot more serious than it was originally thought to be.

The obvious question here is: what if Harbhajan had been selected for the tour of Australia? Before the squad was picked, his form had been an issue, not his fitness. So it is fair to assume that had he been selected, he would possibly have made the trip to Australia carrying an injury serious enough to call for long-term rehabilitation.

The way I see it, the injury has come to light now because Harbhajan decided to get the scan done now. The question is, would he have done the scan if he was in the squad for Australia?

India's management of their players' fitness has left a lot to be desired over the years. It was an important reason why Indian cricket was humiliated in England earlier this year. If the curious case of Harbhajan's injury is ignored by the authorities and allowed to pass, an important lesson will not have been learned from the England tour.

However, it has to be said the selectors are handling Zaheer Khan's current fitness issue and his comeback to international cricket quite professionally, and they should be complimented for it. Though I daresay it might not have been dealt with this way had it not been for England. Now that they seem to be on the right track with Zaheer, they should tackle Harbhajan's injury with the same attitude.

For some time now we know there has been a convenient, unspoken arrangement between players and cricket boards with regard to excessive cricket. Players who wanted to give their very best for their country in every game but felt the prevailing international schedule made it impossible for them to do so, realised their complaints were falling on deaf ears as cricket was being driven by its market and the administrators were seemingly powerless to stop the juggernaut.

So the players took a more pragmatic approach. Instead of taking on the boards to get the right balance between rest and play, they started taking their own "rest" and "injury" breaks, while their nation's cricket marched on. The boards obliged, as long as the series was played and their commitment to television to play a certain number of matches in a year was honoured. Indian TV companies wanted the Indian cricket team to play a certain number of matches and the composition of that team did not matter all that much to them. So it was a win-win situation.

The established players started getting their much-needed breaks and India were still playing the required number of matches. The problem of excessive cricket taking its toll on star players was largely solved, because although India were playing a lot of International cricket, barring a couple or so, the rest of the top Indian stars were never as busy as the Indian team was. All they had to do was raise their hands and be promptly given their leave of absence. But this convenient arrangement led to an undesirable culture: of players deciding when they were fit and when not, rather than the decision being left to the coach or the board.

Kevin Pietersen was not happy when he was rested for the one-dayers after a successful Test series against India, but that decision was taken because the ECB thought it was in the best interest of England's cricket.

Harbhajan is unfit today because he decided to raise his hand now and excuse himself. If he had been in the squad to Australia, the injury may not have come to light in time. Where are the interests of Indian cricket amidst all this?

09:45 GMT, Dcember 4: Amendments were made in the third and last paragraphs of this piece

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anon_Cricket_Fan on December 8, 2011, 20:35 GMT

    Hello Naresh28, You are being too much emotional about Bhaji. He had given enough matches to prove himself and he should let other younger talented players to come up to stage. He can not play for ever for India. If he can not cope up with rest of the team, he is simply dragging the team. As a selector, you should keep your emotions apart and put the team or the country front rather than some individuals. It does not matter how senior they are. All players are compensated and they should take care of themselves rather than barking on the selectors or the management. Look at Dravid, he is much older than Bhaji and he seems much fit than ever before. You said, "People should not have short memories - Australia in India at Kolkata in 2001. Harbajan was the star of that game - together with Dravid and Laxman.", come on...this is a decade ago. However, in a game of cricket, consistency matters, look at his number of wickets in World Cup. He is not even close to some of the junior players!

  • on December 7, 2011, 21:17 GMT

    I really like your commentary and articles and I find you very humble,honest and soft spoken. You are a very good human being and it reflects in your commentary.Good job and stay blessed.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 7, 2011, 14:20 GMT

    A blanket statement from me - The ONLY, I SAY, THE ONLY player who stands tall amidst all these ruins, liars, fakers, pretenders and dishonest malingerers is Rahul Dravid, The Wall. There are no two way about it. Sorry to Sachin and VVS. They both are far behind The Wall in matters regarding fitness (VVS) and 'convenient rest' periods (Sachin).

  • RandyOZ on December 7, 2011, 12:52 GMT

    How is this obnoxious weed still making articles?

  • ramli on December 7, 2011, 8:38 GMT

    Bhajji ... 400 wickets .. ok well done .. Murali rated him as one who could come near his record ... fine ... but now .. Bhajji is out of form .. so he lost his place .. he faked injury in england .. he lost his respect as well ... now no place in aus squad .. so conveniently skipping ranji .... poor example of a senior cricketer .. deserves to be punished until he proves himself again in domestic cricket ... that is all

  • Precioustar84 on December 7, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas - Totally agree with you! As a die-hard Team India fan, its such a shame to know that players are stretched left to right by management. Earlier today I had read Sehwag was surprised to hear Gautam Gambhir may have injury and complained about back pain after 3rd ODI. Well, scan showed no damage so I hope next ODI just proves he is in fact out of form and not selected for the Aus tour but I just dont understand why and how our cricketers are allowed to play matches knowing they are not completely fit. And this article makes me question once again how many other players are also hiding injuries (i.e. Sehwag) and why and how long will they continue to do so? Sadly, I'm left wondering if anyone out there cares to play for nations pride anymore, and hiding injuries certainly does not help the cause. :( Cricinfo please publish.

  • Farce-Follower on December 7, 2011, 0:45 GMT

    @Gautham Va : I agree with your sentiments. Shastri and Gavaskar are already the butt of most jokes amongst the commenting fraternity...one just needs to follow twitter :)

  • shashaankv on December 6, 2011, 18:00 GMT

    Mr.Manjrekar, you have made a very valid point when it comes to injury management of the players. It is very essential for the players to come out clean, no matter if selected or not. Indian cricket has got poor injury management. We should take inspiration from the Australian and South African cricket boards when it comes to managing players'.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 6, 2011, 15:16 GMT

    @Nutcutlet, thank you and wish you and your family the same - from wintery New York :). Are you watching how our batsmen are struggling at home against a young Windies? It's hard not to say, though I'm a die-hard Indian supporter, that there are going to be some heart-breaking batting collapses in Australia. Worse, in the last ODI our bowlers were dismissed with some utter disdain by Sammy and Russell. I'm not saying Sammy and Russell shouldn't be able to play brutal shots against our bowlers. After all, these are all international cricketers. I'm just growing more and more circumspect about our chances in Australia, with some inexperienced bowlers and may be some hidden injuries.

  • Naresh28 on December 6, 2011, 14:40 GMT

    One person who must be feeling really bad is Ashish Nehra - one of the best ODI bowlers India has. He is being treated badly. The selectors should always be communicating with players especially the seniors. The same with Harbajan - he has won many a match for India. If he is injured than BCCI should be assisting him. People should not have short memories - Australia in India at Kolkata in 2001. Harbajan was the star of that game - together with Dravid and Laxman.

  • Anon_Cricket_Fan on December 8, 2011, 20:35 GMT

    Hello Naresh28, You are being too much emotional about Bhaji. He had given enough matches to prove himself and he should let other younger talented players to come up to stage. He can not play for ever for India. If he can not cope up with rest of the team, he is simply dragging the team. As a selector, you should keep your emotions apart and put the team or the country front rather than some individuals. It does not matter how senior they are. All players are compensated and they should take care of themselves rather than barking on the selectors or the management. Look at Dravid, he is much older than Bhaji and he seems much fit than ever before. You said, "People should not have short memories - Australia in India at Kolkata in 2001. Harbajan was the star of that game - together with Dravid and Laxman.", come on...this is a decade ago. However, in a game of cricket, consistency matters, look at his number of wickets in World Cup. He is not even close to some of the junior players!

  • on December 7, 2011, 21:17 GMT

    I really like your commentary and articles and I find you very humble,honest and soft spoken. You are a very good human being and it reflects in your commentary.Good job and stay blessed.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 7, 2011, 14:20 GMT

    A blanket statement from me - The ONLY, I SAY, THE ONLY player who stands tall amidst all these ruins, liars, fakers, pretenders and dishonest malingerers is Rahul Dravid, The Wall. There are no two way about it. Sorry to Sachin and VVS. They both are far behind The Wall in matters regarding fitness (VVS) and 'convenient rest' periods (Sachin).

  • RandyOZ on December 7, 2011, 12:52 GMT

    How is this obnoxious weed still making articles?

  • ramli on December 7, 2011, 8:38 GMT

    Bhajji ... 400 wickets .. ok well done .. Murali rated him as one who could come near his record ... fine ... but now .. Bhajji is out of form .. so he lost his place .. he faked injury in england .. he lost his respect as well ... now no place in aus squad .. so conveniently skipping ranji .... poor example of a senior cricketer .. deserves to be punished until he proves himself again in domestic cricket ... that is all

  • Precioustar84 on December 7, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas - Totally agree with you! As a die-hard Team India fan, its such a shame to know that players are stretched left to right by management. Earlier today I had read Sehwag was surprised to hear Gautam Gambhir may have injury and complained about back pain after 3rd ODI. Well, scan showed no damage so I hope next ODI just proves he is in fact out of form and not selected for the Aus tour but I just dont understand why and how our cricketers are allowed to play matches knowing they are not completely fit. And this article makes me question once again how many other players are also hiding injuries (i.e. Sehwag) and why and how long will they continue to do so? Sadly, I'm left wondering if anyone out there cares to play for nations pride anymore, and hiding injuries certainly does not help the cause. :( Cricinfo please publish.

  • Farce-Follower on December 7, 2011, 0:45 GMT

    @Gautham Va : I agree with your sentiments. Shastri and Gavaskar are already the butt of most jokes amongst the commenting fraternity...one just needs to follow twitter :)

  • shashaankv on December 6, 2011, 18:00 GMT

    Mr.Manjrekar, you have made a very valid point when it comes to injury management of the players. It is very essential for the players to come out clean, no matter if selected or not. Indian cricket has got poor injury management. We should take inspiration from the Australian and South African cricket boards when it comes to managing players'.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 6, 2011, 15:16 GMT

    @Nutcutlet, thank you and wish you and your family the same - from wintery New York :). Are you watching how our batsmen are struggling at home against a young Windies? It's hard not to say, though I'm a die-hard Indian supporter, that there are going to be some heart-breaking batting collapses in Australia. Worse, in the last ODI our bowlers were dismissed with some utter disdain by Sammy and Russell. I'm not saying Sammy and Russell shouldn't be able to play brutal shots against our bowlers. After all, these are all international cricketers. I'm just growing more and more circumspect about our chances in Australia, with some inexperienced bowlers and may be some hidden injuries.

  • Naresh28 on December 6, 2011, 14:40 GMT

    One person who must be feeling really bad is Ashish Nehra - one of the best ODI bowlers India has. He is being treated badly. The selectors should always be communicating with players especially the seniors. The same with Harbajan - he has won many a match for India. If he is injured than BCCI should be assisting him. People should not have short memories - Australia in India at Kolkata in 2001. Harbajan was the star of that game - together with Dravid and Laxman.

  • jplterrors on December 6, 2011, 14:08 GMT

    why ppl are we worrying about such a trivial matter when theres bigger fish to fry like the state of the NZ test team! Martin Crowe has copped out big time with the leg because its fine, bring him back I know that was Wrights plan when he started the comeback NZ needs him, we wont win the 2015 wc without him. Also he could bat in the middle order with another notoriously slow runner in Ryder they would be like 2 peas in a pod out there

  • couchpundit on December 6, 2011, 13:54 GMT

    @everybody - Prime culprit is SACHIN TENDULKAR who kept on playing when he was supposed to take rest or when he was injured during which period he was pathetic(ofcourse by his own standards)

    These guys who look up to him are following what he has been doing.

    What these guys dont understand is they are not a Genius like Sachin nor do they have backing of people like how sachin is backed.

    Although this article is just reflecting what we have been suspecting for a long long period now, main culprits being Praveen Kumar,Nehra,Laxman to say the least.

  • diwa11 on December 6, 2011, 13:13 GMT

    I wouldn't be surprised to see Bajji on Big Boss now ;)

  • on December 6, 2011, 11:10 GMT

    maybe u r right mr sanjay but sorry to say that this is not justice wat harbhajan done for team india ,,,, leave bhaji alone ,,,,bcz u r not helping him

  • manish666 on December 6, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    @tadwana u r right mate..though its out of context here..bt ravi shastri is too same in his commentary ..now u can even predict tht wht he gonna say wen a new batsman comes on creez..or wen one gets out...ALL CLICHES...

  • MKBALA on December 6, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    One of the most overrated spinners of this era. Given a choice none of the captains would prefer him. Look at his contemproraries, Swann, Murali, Kumble, Warne, Saeed ajmal.. I would have also preferred Romesh pawar on any day. The most underestimated and underutilised spinner of this decade. Pawar bowls with big heart. Flights the ball and also smart operator. Where does Bhajji stand. The injury in england was fake. OVer the last two years, he was saved by his batting skills more than his bowling. He thought he could come back into the team for the series WI. He was trying to be smart. Good that Ashwin and Ojha performed.Bhajji in go down in history as a loser who ran away from the scene when the team was in trouble in Eng 2011 series with a fake injury. Between the Eng and Aus series he was avaialbe for CLT20. Now i question about his integrity as well?????

  • truebleue_cricfan on December 6, 2011, 1:34 GMT

    As someone mentioned earlier, just goes to show how big a jerk this fellow Harbhajan is. Hope he never gets picked again. Serves him and his buddies who back him in the team right. If ever there was an undeserving player in the team, it is him. 400 wickets, eh? If someone like Arshad Ayub had played for 10 consecutive years, I have no doubt he would have got 400 as well. So that piece of statistic is meaningless.

  • on December 6, 2011, 1:22 GMT

    I am really unsure what actually Sanjay is driving at through his article. It's clear that Indian team is playing lot of matches and thus it would be sensible for players to understand their bodies and attend to their injuries. It could very much be possible that Harbhajan has played through minor injuries. The unfortunate thing is that the injury that was considered manageable seem to be serious enough with additional attention required. I guess it's fair to have some understanding towards the players in such cases. With regards to board, I can't agree more that board's greed has resulted in excessive cricket and player injuries. It's high time for ICC to manage cricket calendar where in at least 3 months of time off is given to each of the teams in a calendar year.

  • Nampally on December 6, 2011, 1:19 GMT

    Sanjay, I always felt that the relationship between the contracted players and BCCI is like Employee/Employer in any good organization.Its the responsibility of the BCCI to have full medicals on all contracted players every six months & maintain their health records(physical & mental).Gambhir's concussion was handled attrociously earlier this year. Sehwag was allowed to play even without any medicals to check his shoulder's condition.Zaheer was let on to playing field in an over weight/bloated condition.Ishant Sharma had ankle problewm which miraculouslydisappeared!? I am ot sure whether any Medico has checked him out.He is in the Australian squad. Harbhajan's injuries are coming to fore just now. Sree also is now laying low with a serious heel injury. As far as I know none of the 17 selected squad players have undergone any physical fitness tests, as all National teams do. BCCI, as responsible employees are failing in their duty. "England Injury syndrom" is not far from recurrence!.

  • ARad on December 6, 2011, 0:44 GMT

    Eleven players have taken over 400 wickets in Tests. The three Indian players (Kapil, Kumble and Harbhajan) have the highest averages. Everyone else averages below 25.5 and Harbhajan is the only one to average over 30. He must pray for Vettori to get 400 wickets since there is a good chance that Vettori would average over 30 as well when he gets there. At least Vettori's home conditions are not very spinner friendly compared to Indian conditions...

  • nikhilshahb on December 5, 2011, 22:56 GMT

    The reason for Harbhajan's downfall has been burnout and needs to be rested. Having made his debut at the age of 18 he has been playing non-stop in all formats of the game except for a short gap before the T20 WC win. His level has been dropping and he needs to rest for while. His come back should be in just 1-format of the game that he should decide to end his career. The seniors have to seriously think about picking only one format, TESTS only. Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj and Zaheer should pick only Tests, since Sachin, Dravid and Laxman are already doing that.

  • hhillbumper on December 5, 2011, 22:36 GMT

    Hope he gets picked again.Always great fun to watch him bowl and watch his face as the ball crashes into the fence.How many wickets did he get away from sub continent. 4oo wickets just shows how poor batting has been recently

  • Scallopian on December 5, 2011, 21:56 GMT

    Sanjay, I could not agree with you more- Indian cricket is distinct from the cricket boards of other countries in that players decide whether or not they are fit. However, after reading this article, I am left wondering, is this exclusively a a problem for the BCCI to manage or do players have some responsibilities as well? It is a common trend to call out the BCCI for its unreasonable cricketing schedule, but is it also the task of someone like a Harbhajan Singh to raise his hand whenever he has an injury? It seems entirely plausible that Harbhajan would not have revealed his injury if he had been picked to tour Australia, but I feel that Harbhajan himself may have to be blamed for being dishonest, and not necessarily the board.

  • TamilIndian on December 5, 2011, 21:47 GMT

    Felt the same way when I read about Harbhajan's injury - He gets injured when he is not among the wickets - or may be he is not among the wickets when he is injured. Only he knows :-)

  • Rumy1 on December 5, 2011, 20:55 GMT

    What if Irfan does well in 2 ODIs. Will they fly him Down under. In that case who will he replace..Mithun? This is how our selectors unfortunately work. I think we are also being hyper over Yadav / Aron hitting above140 kmph. We forget that there are atleast 20 bowlers in Australian state teams who consistently bowl over140 kmph. Aussie batsmen are used to it. 140 kmph with little variation, swing and experienc is fodder for sweet timers like Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Watson.Let's keep focus on Zaheer and Ishant to deliver. And if they can have Irfan that suffices. But for injury, Harbhajan could be put on plane to Australia on Thursday to join Ojha. Ashwin-an avg offie looks sorted out already by lesser mortals like Bravo, Simmons, Rampaul, Russel. Likes of Ponting, Watson, Hussey and Clarke would be watching. We can imagine treatment of Ashwin at their hands.Jaffer must also be drafted in as No.2 opener as Gambhir is woefully out of form since end 2009.Rohit must play at No.6 in tests

  • sandeeprevi on December 5, 2011, 20:47 GMT

    This injury break that could last the whole of the ranji season is gonna do even more harm for harbhajan and he will have no proving ground to get back into the indian team in the near future.He might have to wait for next ranji season to prove to selectors he can still be useful and if ashwin and ojha make their chances count it will be even more harder for him to break into the team.

  • on December 5, 2011, 20:41 GMT

    I know this is out of context but I just can't help myself . I do not want to see ravi shashtri and gavaskar comentating in every match that india plays they are just too boring I hear same pattern of commentry in every match- ravi shashtri -eg."Very hot conditions greeting the players" ; "its hot and humid" ; "he needs to take a gamble here" ; "he is very cool and calm" and gavaskar is like a actor in the south movies he repeats everything twice . I mean that is so poor they are always using cliches . Please Channle 9 hire someone else for india's tour of australia.

  • on December 5, 2011, 20:31 GMT

    Clearly 2 types of comments to this article. 1.The majority of the folks in complete agreement with Sanjay on his suspicion and lauding him for asking uncomfortable questions of the Indian players and the board. 2.The other 15-20% want to know what evidence the author has before he writes such an audacious piece.

    Both emotions flowed in plenty when I was reading through this article. If the sequence of events were incorrect, this article is unfair to Bhajji. But I think this article asks more of the board than it does of Bhajji. Bhajji now has a lot to prove before he gets into the side and his return should be based more on what he does to rectify his situation than how Ashwin/Ojha work out for India. That said, the board needs to spend a lot of calories on injury prevention, effective communication between the players and the board and schedule management of the players. This hand waving exercise when it comes to players injury is an indication of lack of accountability!

  • on December 5, 2011, 20:17 GMT

    Completely in agreement with Sanjay. Nicely written.

  • krickrazy on December 5, 2011, 20:14 GMT

    I like the way you just fall short of speaking out:)

  • on December 5, 2011, 19:35 GMT

    Harbajan I guess does not want to play ranji trophy and prove to the selectors. I guess he wants to be picked on reputation. Sanjay was spot on, there would have been no injury had been picked for Australia tour and then had not done well in the first test, suddenly he would pick up an injury to escape to keep his repuation clean.

  • TRAM on December 5, 2011, 18:53 GMT

    Sanjay, I wish you wrote this article after one of so many of SRT's frequent "rest" decisions. But of course your points are 100% valid. I am sure you know more than me on whats happening 'inside that world'.

  • on December 5, 2011, 17:53 GMT

    All mouths will be shut wen bhajji gets fit nd come back in indian team with a bang. He's a super star player nd knows how to fight back nd yes he is going thru the rough time now... but remember form is temporary but class is permanent. Bhajji came into recon with a bang in super series against mighty aussies back then, unlike ashwin who got few ez wickets against clueless young west indian batsmen. He will see what it takes to be in bhajji's place in australia....just wait nd watch guys.... only bhajji can match aussie aggression nd yes he will be truly missed... nd about dis guy manjrekar....wat to say...hez one useless guy!!!!! SINGH IS KING nd widout bhajji itz hard to imagine indian team.... come back superstar.... we luv u !!!!!

  • on December 5, 2011, 17:43 GMT

    Dude "FoollyFedUp" I have been waiting for an article on Ravi and gavaskar for ages.. These guys are brain washing every one... Too much biased commentators.. i'd rather love to hear Ranil Abeynaike or Athar Ali Khan ....

  • mustufa on December 5, 2011, 17:43 GMT

    Wow, you need evidence for this, people, as soon as he is not selected, he is reportedly injured, get some common sense. Why do you think Zaheer ended up on the table after one innings in England, he must have carried it, and ignored fitness concerns. These guys need to be told what to do, when to do, and how to do it.

  • VickGower on December 5, 2011, 17:34 GMT

    I was very surprised myself that this most blatant/shameless stunt Harbhajan has pulled off has not received more coverage anywhere. It was a passing byline on Cricinfo until Sanjay brought it up. And I really applaud him for that. I have always loved his candid and thoughtful commentary. Of all Indian commentators Sanjay is the most honest (that is to say, direct without sounding opinionated), and the only one who seems to care to go beyond the obvious. Case in point: On Neo cricket he was just told that Mithun has been selected to replace Praveen for the Australian tour. His response: "I am very surprised. I would have thought him the least likely." Paraphrasing. Btw, Arun Lal is another commentator I really enjoy.

  • on December 5, 2011, 17:09 GMT

    Its a brilliant article ! Hitting the nail right on top of the head ! Kudos.

  • CricFan78 on December 5, 2011, 16:54 GMT

    " The way I see it, the injury has come to light now because Harbhajan decided to get the scan done now. " - So Sanjay has no credible information that Harbhajan was injured before playing Ranji match and yet he chose to throw some mud?

  • on December 5, 2011, 16:48 GMT

    Any guess, how many are not FULLY fit in the Indian team selected for the OZ tour: 1.Zak? 2.Ishant? 3. Scahin? 4. Sehwag? 5. Dhoni? 6. ===? 7.===?

  • Nutcutlet on December 5, 2011, 14:19 GMT

    @Dravid Gravitas. Season's Greetings from wintery UK . You have asked the question I was going to ask: thank you. There are so many elephants in the Indian selectors' room it must be difficult to breathe. I don't really understand the mentality of players who are injured, but play on and make themselves available for major tours where they will be found out, sooner rather than later. I have always held it to be axiomatic that no player carrying a genuine injury (niggles are different) should ever be selected for a match, let alone a tour. But what do I, or any of us, know? Would Sanjay take a moment to enlighten us, please?

  • Mopsy on December 5, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    Bajji should have been dropped some time back, no two ways about it but what Manjrekar writes is nothing less than slander, Manjrekar is a bitter man, long back he called sachin"elephant in the dressing room" !!

  • Yolk_Eater on December 5, 2011, 13:03 GMT

    @Ritesh Bhagwat: I hope you know that Sanjay was one of the first people to say that SRT is a liability and should be dropped from the team when Sachin was going through a tough phase. And he said , he should retire because the game won't come back to him. I do not like him because of that article, he should show some respect to a player who has given so much for the country.

  • uglyhunK on December 5, 2011, 13:01 GMT

    Nonsense !!!! Unless you can substantiate your claims with proof don't feed us your assumptions. This is totally irresponsible.

  • on December 5, 2011, 12:57 GMT

    Its all about money money and money! isn't it! players feel if they sit out with injury someone other will get a chance and might establish himself so they carry on with injury..

  • on December 5, 2011, 12:41 GMT

    With all due respect, I think you are being too critical. It is common that the international cricketers continue to play with niggles especially if it is a tournament as big as India vs Australia or a world cup and go back and get their surgeries done during a less profile series. We saw Greame Smith do the same with his tennis elbow injury to play the Australia series not so long ago.

  • FoollyFedUp on December 5, 2011, 12:35 GMT

    Can we ever, ever, ever get an article like this from Ravi Shastri or Sunil Gavaskar. At last, Cricinfo has decided to publish an article that is not flaterring to the Indian board.

  • crikbuff on December 5, 2011, 11:48 GMT

    Fantastic article. This time, Sanjay Manjrekar hits a straight drive to the boundary, and does not sit on the fence like his DRS article. Harbhajan's injury news was conveniently timed. Also, BCCI is hand-in-glove because they don't care as long as their coffers are filled. They want all players to be fit for IPL. Notably, Bhajji will also be miraculously fit for IPL!

  • S.Jagernath on December 5, 2011, 10:38 GMT

    With people like Ravi Shastri & Sourav Ganguly in Indian cricket,even an injured Harbhajan Singh might be selected ahead of a spinner doing a very good job,in this case Ravichandran Ashwin.Harbhajan Singh is not a consistent bowler,I hope India continue to ignore him.India need to work with the younger spinners & spin bowling allrounders.Harbhajan Singh's abilities are too reliant on Indian pitches & his arrogance is not what Indian cricket needs.

  • on December 5, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    This has been going on for a long time especially in case of Harbhajan Singh.. he has been given way too much leeway all the time without any major performances! Others have been sacked at the drop of a hat but he has enjoyed all the privileges! Even now he is in the A category.. he should have been relegated! With him one feels there's certainly a backing meant for more than cricket! Let's hope he is gone for good this time! And well written Sanjay ji.. have always admired your forthrightness!

  • Riderstorm on December 5, 2011, 10:31 GMT

    Adding insult to the injury, harbhajan has not been in form for the better part of past 3 years since the retirement of kumble.All the while, he has been giving silly excuses trying to buy his way out. He could have been outright honest which would have earned him respect from his fans when he was not doing well. To top everything off, his aggression on the field against the top teams was at times embarrassing to the fans when not backed by his performances.

  • Riderstorm on December 5, 2011, 10:27 GMT

    Brilliant article.!!! Excellently put, coming at the right time. I, as a fan of Indian cricket am confused on how to react to such mishandling BCCI and irresponsible behavior from players. It always gave me a sense of pride to know that Indian players put country infront of their personal goals. At times, playing with not 100% fitness just to keep the team competitive. But, the case of Harbhajan Singh tells another story altogether. It is not just suspicion, he is proving time and again his irresponsibility by ducking out of england tour, playing CLT20, ducking out in the name of injury from Ranji after the non selection for Australia tour. This should call for a disciplinary action against harbhajan with a detailed explanation from him for his behavior all through the international commitments. BCCI, world knows their inept handlng of players. I was expecting better things from harbhajan, having played for India for a decade now.

  • getsetgopk on December 5, 2011, 10:13 GMT

    what difference would it have made if he wasn't injured?? anyone saw the Indian tour of England?

  • Ritesh_Bhagwat on December 5, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    I follow Sanjay Manjrekar everywhere (Cricinfo ,twitter) because he is so unbiased.He calls Spade a Spade... Thought of Ian Chappell in the same league untill read his recent article on Ricky Ponting :-( . Hope Sanjay will always be like that and enlighten common people like us!

  • SouthPaw on December 5, 2011, 10:00 GMT

    Nice one Sanjay - you should raise this on TV during "Extra Cover"!

  • manojettedi on December 5, 2011, 9:44 GMT

    I am very much sure there is no injury here. He wanted to play in the Ranji matches , expecting he would pick wickets and make a statement about him being dropped. But once the squad for the Australian tour was picked, he has realized there is no use playing in Ranji, and hence, it obvious that he has not got an injury. This is not the first time, he is doing this. In fact, on the Englnad tour too, it was very much clear that he had faked an injury so that he was embarrassed anymore ,with his weak bowling. Its time for truth Bhajji. You have been given a long rope. Success has gone to your head. just think, how Anil carried himself and the way he fought even in his lat test match. In front of him, I can say that you are simply nothing. Its a chance for him, to either learn from this situation or still keep saying his common dialogue " Without efffort, no would have got the wickets, I have got".

  • dicky_boy on December 5, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    Sachin resting whenever he wants to and playing whenever he wants to is not healthy for the composition if the team I guess, he should either play one day games taking the odd rest or else quit Odis If u notice in the SA TOUR HE CAME BACK AFTER FIRST ODI COMPLAINING OF INJURY, ENGLAND TOUR SAME THING, WI TOUR HE OPTED OUT BUT FOR MUMBAI INDIANS HE PLAYS ALWAYS AND ALSO WHEN INJURED HE SITS IN THE DRESSING ROOM , DOUBLE STANDARDS , CRICINFO PLEASE PUBLISH

  • chandroo1964 on December 5, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    There should be some % of money on physical fitness of players from their total payout. This will help them to be focused on their weight, felxibility, and fitness in total. BCCI s also have to be constantly monitoring their fitness by a neutral committee. Any player who is injured sd also have to play domestic cricket, prove their fitness and make themselves available for selecton. (Ex: Zaheer)

  • Y2SJ on December 5, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    This 'injury' is like the mysterious injury he had in England. Just covering for his inability to take wickets. Hope Harbhajan owns up for his failures and grows up.

  • rohan024 on December 5, 2011, 9:12 GMT

    @bookie7600 likewise, even i have developed respect for manjrekar after reading this article..regarding harbhajan, i actually don't mind him being fit for champions league and IPL and unfit for international matches..Afterall he struggles to match the quality of international matches, hes fine for first class matches...fact is bhajji doesn't deserve to be in the team..

  • SibaMohanty on December 5, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    Someone must make Bhajji accountable for his actions. He is turning out to be a big liar depending on the situation. Had a stomach pull when he was going through a horrible patch in England. Was vocal about how he has five to six years of international cricket left and suddenly after the drop, has discovered a shin injury.

  • on December 5, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    another fake injury... its all the reasons to hide is poor form... fake an injury...take a break... spend some time off cricket and try u form again... this is wat he could be doing....

  • muski on December 5, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    Sanjay- His next pitstop is the Private Hospital in the City where I live. Its called the National Cricket Academy. The very fact that Bhajji after returning injured from England, played in the Champions League speaks volumes of where his loyalties lie. This had probably sealed his fate for Windies Series. I hope and Pray that Ashwin and Ohja do extremely well in Aus and shunt this man into wilderness for eternity.

  • timelord24 on December 5, 2011, 8:58 GMT

    finally someone has come out and said what the india public has been fearing for a long time. as long as we keep winning matches, we dont care what the players do. another classic case is ishant sharma. after the england series,he announced that he was not going to have surgery until after the australia tour. now he says there is no need for surgery. what if we had taken him and he had broken down like zaheer khan in england? players are the kings and they seem to determine the course of their injury which is not good for indian cricket.

  • on December 5, 2011, 8:22 GMT

    But what about us poor souls who are thrust with cricket day in and day out? Don't we need a break? Don't we need time to reflect on the glory that we had recently or crib about the ones that got away recently? The BCCI is an organization that does not have an inkling to what the cricket followers think; they only deal with players and their sponsors.

  • on December 5, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    players realised money is not bigger than playing cricket for india. rohit, ojha and some other players dropped because they put on some weights . now they realised to take care of their physical fitness. bcci have to come up with the plan to maintain players fitness especially the weights and the running while chasing the ball to stop boundary

  • DasaradhiR on December 5, 2011, 7:49 GMT

    Good points snajay. In any case, both the injury and exclusion from squal can be blessing in disguise for Bhajji. I feel, Bhajji should give himself some rest from all forms of cricket. Time away from cricket can only help him to regroup himself and come out stronger. I think the selectors wouldn't have been so tough on harbhajan had India managed to perform well in the Engladn series. Harbhajan should treat himself like anyother player having a lean patch, he should be gentle to himself and should not try to force things. So dear bhajji, Give yourself some time, you will hit the puple patch sooner than later.

  • N.Sundararajan on December 5, 2011, 7:33 GMT

    Sanjay, Brilliantly written ! And coming from someone who has played for India and has been handled by the BCCI--this should hit the BCCI on their face !! But will BCCI ever learn anything other than money language?

  • Sankara on December 5, 2011, 7:23 GMT

    Quite amazing how after the team to Australia was announced, we hear of the problems with players, who didn't make it. Harbhajan is the third to announce the problem, after Yuvraj and Sreesanth

  • i_witnessed_2011 on December 5, 2011, 7:21 GMT

    Well said Sanjay!! we can not question commitment of these players. but there is lot to talk about 'integrity' when it comes to injury.

  • on December 5, 2011, 7:20 GMT

    in short , harbhajan singh is a joke, first he has this injury in england, runs back home only 2 get super fit for champions league...again got ready to tour australia even when half fit. he is no good for the team, he is a bad influence on younsters, younsters in the side should look upto ppl like VVS, rahul , sachin, kumble etc and not at ppl like harbhajan , yuvraj etc....

  • junsay on December 5, 2011, 7:13 GMT

    Very well written by Sanjay. He is a writer who makes keen observations of the happenings in the cricket world. Also admire his guts for writing what he wrote about Sachin's impending 100th ton. Only other bloke who writes daring and interesting stuff is Ian Chappell.

  • mits6 on December 5, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    Side effects of overdose of cricket (espescially long tournaments like IPL ,with more than 60 matches at a trot)

  • robheinen on December 5, 2011, 6:55 GMT

    It has always amazed me how a board of selectors in India can select 25 odd players from a population of 1.000.000.000 odd people. The nuances in skill - all skills - necessary to be part of the Indian team will not be such that there is a sharp line betwee the 25 chosen and the rest I presume.

  • on December 5, 2011, 6:48 GMT

    hit the nail on the head.

  • on December 5, 2011, 6:46 GMT

    Dude enough stop targeting bhajji again and again..he is not in d team happy now?

    stop criticizing him again and again..he will comeback soon and slam his criticizers.

    Just a bad time of phase..

  • Vishal_07 on December 5, 2011, 6:41 GMT

    Come on, Sanjay, you are only speculating. Just write on cricket and unless you have confirmed sources, don't go on bad mouthing active (or any) players.

    Shame on cricinfo for publishing this article.

  • on December 5, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    Thanks Sanjay for exposing the powers-that-be & their games. You deserve kudos for fearlessly & boldly writing on the working of the BCCI. This is how the game at the highest level is played.

  • Meety on December 5, 2011, 6:10 GMT

    Singh would never of made a dint in Oz anyways. Better spinners have been selected.

  • RajivNaik on December 5, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    Absolutely spot on, Sanjay. Happy to see you back to your sensible writing, after that anomaly of your last DRS article. Contrast the attitude of the Indian board to the Australian one, here: http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/story/543269.html, on the Harris injury management. You were also quite incisive on the convenient hypocrisy at play on senior players being allowed to choose their own 'rest' periods.

  • sray23 on December 5, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing players are left to decide themselves if they are fit or not. But 2 problems could come out: 1. The player plays even when he is unfit and breaks down in the middle of a match or series. 2. The player fakes injury in the middle of a match or series to get out of playing a match when in bad form. Zaheer was guilty of 1. in England and Harbhajan probably 2. Selectors are handling 1. quite well with Zaheer as you say, and the best answer to 2. is to introduce competition. Now that our dear Bhajji has competition in Ashwin and Ojha he really has no choice but to perform or perish after years of taking his place for granted.

  • bookie7600 on December 5, 2011, 5:35 GMT

    What an insightful article! I didn't even think about such a senario when Harbhajan's shin news was out. I have new found respect for Mr Manjrekar for calling spade a spade.

  • Rahul_78 on December 5, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    Sanjay has this habit of asking uncomfortable questions of Indian cricket and I love his thoughts and article because of this. It is refreshing to see an Indian ex cricketer asking prickly questions of the Big boys in cricket as well as administration instead of sucking up their might. It was very noticeable that Harbhajan returned from England with abdominal injury when on the verge of being dropped from the test side. The timing of that injury was also very interesting. Now it is clear that he will not play any part of the international cricket in near future and his second injury has followed. I hope Harbhajan is not thinking on the lines that all he needs is a long break from cricket to get his loop, bounce and spin back instead of grinding it out on unresponsive pitches in domestic circuit. He must remember that there is no substitute for hard work and toil to achieve success.

  • on December 5, 2011, 5:31 GMT

    Reading this, one cannot but imply that Bhajji played the Champions League even though he was injured. Pulling out of the English tour citing an injury was justified in Bhajji's book, but the lures of Champion League were too good to ignore, so he chose to play through it in pain as well. Well, to say the least, this sounds disgraceful. And then people say that the "Country v/s Club" debate is naive...!!!

  • Coco-SCC on December 5, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    Says a lot about the guy, I guess.

  • on December 5, 2011, 5:07 GMT

    True. But what joy do players get by playing with an injury, and what joy do the fans get watching them play? something must be done. Fast; if the above said does turn out to be true.

  • rohan024 on December 5, 2011, 5:05 GMT

    I never thought Sanjay would show so much guts and write such honest truth..Harbhajan in particular takes the country for a toss, when he is playing on turners he is fit, when he doesn't get wickets he more often than not falls injured...so much so for a star spinner..

  • kingcobra85 on December 5, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    Its upto harbhajan to declare unfit. Obviously he didnt tell the selectors about his injury before selection. Kept it to himself. Its players like these who are surge of modern Indian cricket team

  • yogi.s on December 5, 2011, 4:40 GMT

    I understand the author's point about the board's poor handling of players' fitness, but unless he has more info of harbhajan's case than we have through the media reports i think it is a little unfair as to how he assumed things. The injury is a recurrence of an old problem so it could very well be that this had nothing to do with not being selected for Aus. Even if he was selected who knows he might have had to sit out like praveen kumar is doing now. People have to be considerate when they are saying something which could show a person's character in bad light and especially coming from an ex-cricketer himself I'm disappointed in Mr. Sanjay Manjrekar.

  • Longmemory on December 5, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    There's more to it than just that. Zaheer showed up in England fat and unfit. He had used his "rest" during the Windiies series evidently to just let himself go and forget all about fitness. There are injuries which are hidden until convenient and there are injuries that are a result of a complete lack of commitment to one's team-mates and country. Neither is pardonable.

  • vatsap on December 5, 2011, 4:27 GMT

    As always spot on Sanjay, and this is the reason why most Indian fans like to read or listen to you comment as you don't mince the words. There could probably be a fitness camp before every Test tour at the least, to avoid such surprises.

  • on December 5, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    Looks though for him to make a comeback. He is a fighter, no doubt about that... Dada's own kin but his comeback will also depend on how Ashwin and Ojha perform, who at the moment are performing outstandingly. Have to learn a lesson or 2 from this duo about flighting the ball...

  • on December 5, 2011, 4:13 GMT

    nice issue being raised...

  • satish619chandar on December 5, 2011, 4:09 GMT

    Hmmm.. Bhajji should have declared himself unfit for the selection if he had any plans of surgery before.. If he declared this injury in frustration, his attitude is not going to help him any further..

  • anoopshameed on December 5, 2011, 4:08 GMT

    Valid points but the fact that Praveen Kumar, who was selected for Australian Series opted out due to injury, rather undermines it!

  • on December 5, 2011, 4:06 GMT

    And Now Sreeshanth? These people really do not want to play Ranji's!

  • on December 5, 2011, 4:01 GMT

    Fantastic article,Sanjay. The BCCI must be ruthless and throughly investigate Harbhajan's alleged injury.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 5, 2011, 4:00 GMT

    Sanjay, I can't help but applaude you for your straight forward article filled with relevant questions. I can't help but feel sorry for Indian Cricket. Players can mislead the board so blatantly. Shame! What's the thing with Ishant Sharma's ankle now? Is he really fit to tour down under? I don't think so.

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  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 5, 2011, 4:00 GMT

    Sanjay, I can't help but applaude you for your straight forward article filled with relevant questions. I can't help but feel sorry for Indian Cricket. Players can mislead the board so blatantly. Shame! What's the thing with Ishant Sharma's ankle now? Is he really fit to tour down under? I don't think so.

  • on December 5, 2011, 4:01 GMT

    Fantastic article,Sanjay. The BCCI must be ruthless and throughly investigate Harbhajan's alleged injury.

  • on December 5, 2011, 4:06 GMT

    And Now Sreeshanth? These people really do not want to play Ranji's!

  • anoopshameed on December 5, 2011, 4:08 GMT

    Valid points but the fact that Praveen Kumar, who was selected for Australian Series opted out due to injury, rather undermines it!

  • satish619chandar on December 5, 2011, 4:09 GMT

    Hmmm.. Bhajji should have declared himself unfit for the selection if he had any plans of surgery before.. If he declared this injury in frustration, his attitude is not going to help him any further..

  • on December 5, 2011, 4:13 GMT

    nice issue being raised...

  • on December 5, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    Looks though for him to make a comeback. He is a fighter, no doubt about that... Dada's own kin but his comeback will also depend on how Ashwin and Ojha perform, who at the moment are performing outstandingly. Have to learn a lesson or 2 from this duo about flighting the ball...

  • vatsap on December 5, 2011, 4:27 GMT

    As always spot on Sanjay, and this is the reason why most Indian fans like to read or listen to you comment as you don't mince the words. There could probably be a fitness camp before every Test tour at the least, to avoid such surprises.

  • Longmemory on December 5, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    There's more to it than just that. Zaheer showed up in England fat and unfit. He had used his "rest" during the Windiies series evidently to just let himself go and forget all about fitness. There are injuries which are hidden until convenient and there are injuries that are a result of a complete lack of commitment to one's team-mates and country. Neither is pardonable.

  • yogi.s on December 5, 2011, 4:40 GMT

    I understand the author's point about the board's poor handling of players' fitness, but unless he has more info of harbhajan's case than we have through the media reports i think it is a little unfair as to how he assumed things. The injury is a recurrence of an old problem so it could very well be that this had nothing to do with not being selected for Aus. Even if he was selected who knows he might have had to sit out like praveen kumar is doing now. People have to be considerate when they are saying something which could show a person's character in bad light and especially coming from an ex-cricketer himself I'm disappointed in Mr. Sanjay Manjrekar.