The Indian Test party in Australia is so badly affected by injuries - impact and otherwise - that they might be struggling to put a proper, fit XI on the field for the final Test, from Friday in Brisbane. Justin Langer, the Australia coach, feels that the IPL - the timing of it to be exact - is to blame, and pointed to the players Australia had missing during the white-ball games earlier in the summer.
"… I've said this is going to be the survival of the fittest this summer. It's really interesting how many injuries there's been throughout this summer," Langer said at a press interaction on Wednesday. "We suffered through it through the white-ball series if you remember, and through the Test series. I can't help but think that the IPL this year really probably wasn't ideal timing for anyone, certainly for such a big series like this."
India reached Australia without Rohit Sharma (for the first two Tests) and Ishant Sharma (out for the whole series) after they picked up injuries during the IPL. Since then, they have lost Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja to injuries sustained while batting, as well as Umesh Yadav (calf strain) and KL Rahul (injured at training), while R Ashwin, Hanuma Vihari and Mayank Agarwal are carrying injuries too.
As for Australia, they didn't have David Warner and Marcus Stoinis, both of whom were key players for their respective teams at the IPL - played between September and November this year because of Covid-19 - for most of the short-format games because of injuries. Warner, in fact, missed the first two Tests against India too before returning for the third despite not being completely fit.
"I love the IPL, I look at the IPL now how I used to look at county cricket for our young players, who go and play county cricket and it helps their cricket development enormously," Langer said. "I think it's the same with the IPL with our players now, it helps their white ball development. But the timing of it because of what happened with Covid, probably wasn't ideal, and I just wonder whether that's having an impact on the injuries we're seeing for both teams throughout the summer. I'm sure we'll review that."
Langer stressed that with so many cases of soft-tissue injuries, the matter should be considered a trend, and addressed accordingly.
"We've got some high-performance people and the medicos and we said after the one-day series that we should review it," he said. "If you're having more injuries or the trend is more injuries than usual, then of course you've got to review it. I'm sure we've got Andrew Weller at Cricket Australia, he's on the case at the moment. A lot of these things you can say they're one-off incidents, but when it becomes a trend, India and Australia have had more injuries.
"Some have been a broken arm, Ravi [Jadeja] broke his thumb the other day, so they're a bit unusual. But the soft-tissue injuries we've got to look at and I'm sure we'll review that like we do with most things post-series. When you're getting a lot of injuries, that would be a negative we're going to try to see if there's any answers for (it). There might not be, but there might be."
The next edition of the IPL is scheduled to take place at its usual window, between April and May this year.