Indian board not convinced about Munaf
Munaf Patel has far more serious concerns than a sore ankle with the BCCI openly questioning his integrity
Munaf Patel was not in full steam in the third Test at Cape Town
Munaf Patel, the Indian fast bowler, has far more serious concerns than a sore ankle with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) openly questioning his integrity. Munaf,
who was injured after the second one-dayer in South Africa took no further
part in the series until the final Test, where he was obviously well below
peak fitness, and bowled at less than full capacity.
Niranjan Shah, the BCCI secretary, said that he had summoned John
Gloster, the physiotherapist of the Indian team, to the offices of the
board in Mumbai on Monday for a full debriefing on what exactly happened
with Munaf, but backed the team management and the physio to the hilt. "I
had yesterday summoned John Gloster to get a report from him on Munaf
Patel. According to his report Gloster said they had taken all the fitness
tests necessary and felt that he was totally fit. I think Rahul [Dravid] and the
other members of the team management must also have been convinced of
Munaf's fitness before taking him in the eleven. Certain injuries are such
that the physio may believe that the player will recover any time. Whether
the player has that same confidence or not is something else. The players
should be honest with themselves, there's no point blaming the physio."
In a more damning statement, Shah, speaking for the BCCI, laid the blame
squarely at Munaf. "Then we were surprised, when Dr Anant Joshi
conducted tests, and Munaf complained about pain. Joshi then advised a
couple of weeks' rest," he said. "Here I am a little concerned about the
player himself. The player himself should be honest enough about his own
fitness. The last 5% has to come from the player. The doctor cannot say
how much pain you are experiencing. Many players can play even with a big
injury but some players cannot play even with a small injury. The honesty
of the player - at least in the case of Munaf Patel - is in question.
"During the series Munaf's fitness was being monitored and there was the
hope from Gloster that Munaf would recover any day," revealed Shah, who is
believed to have been in favour of a move to send Munaf home along with
Irfan Pathan. "That prolonged his stay and the board went with it. But
after seeing his performance in the third Test the board is worried."
When asked if there were larger concerns, as Sachin Tendulkar too looked
off colour in the third Test, and has subsequently pulled out of Mumbai's
final Ranji Trophy match against Maharashtra, Shah was more careful.
"That's a small thing, the hamstring problem," Shah said. "He will be fit soon.
Tendukar is a responsible player."
Shah did not think it was fair to blame Munaf for the loss in the final Test and consequently the series. "You can't say that any one player cost the match or the series," he said, while adding,
"even one player not putting in full effort will hamper the team's chances of winning."
At the same time, Shah dismissed the suggestion that this situation had
arisen as a result of friction between himself and Dilip Vengsarkar, the
chairman of selectors. "It was not friction. I said what the board feels,
but we don't interfere in the matter of team selection," said Shah, who
had earlier said that it was the board's prerogative to send a player back
from a tour whenever they felt it appropriate. Vengsarkar had publicly
disagreed, saying a player would only be sent back in case of injury.
"That is for Vengsarkar and the team management to decide. Whether to send
someone home or not is for the selection committee to decide. [Virender] Sehwag's
failure was such that maybe he should have been replaced by somebody
Interestingly, Dr Joshi, the board's consulting orthopaedic doctor, has
not spared Munaf either after examining him. "Clinically he has full
range of ankle motion, good joint stability, and no appreciable swelling.
His ankle seems to be normal as compared to the non-injured side," wrote
Dr. Joshi in his report to the board. "The X-ray did not reveal any
significant pathology. Going through his medical record in South Africa I
find that the treatment given to him has been top class. It appears that
Munaf continues to be apprehensive about the injury, more psychological
than physical. He needs to overcome this problem himself. I have suggested
rest and continued physiotherapy over the next 2-3 weeks before he can be
re-evaluated and start playing domestic cricket."
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo