Players' workload management: NCA and franchises to 'work in tandem' during IPL 2023
Yo-Yo tests back as a selection parameter, Dexa scans introduced following BCCI review meeting attended by Dravid, Rohit, Laxman and others
The workloads of key India players, particularly those with a history of injuries, will be monitored during IPL 2023 by the BCCI's National Cricket Academy and the IPL franchises "in tandem". This is in accordance with the BCCI's new policy for managing workloads of players in the lead-up to the 50-over World Cup this October and November and the World Test Championship final in June, if India qualify for it.
The plan to have the NCA work with the IPL franchises during the 2023 edition of the tournament was among a number of recommendations made by the BCCI following a review meeting in Mumbai on Sunday, convened to discuss the roadmap of the senior men's team for the World Cup.
Among other matters discussed were the team's performance in 2022, which included the Test series loss in South Africa, the fifth Test loss in England (from the incomplete series the previous year), the semi-final exit - with a ten-wicket loss to England - from the T20 World Cup in Australia, and the ODI series loss in Bangladesh most recently.
Head coach Rahul Dravid, regular all-format captain Rohit Sharma, BCCI president Roger Binny, secretary Jay Shah, NCA head VVS Laxman and selection committee chair Chetan Sharma were present at the meeting.
ESPNcricinfo has learnt that workload and injury management were discussed at length, especially after several key players missed a significant amount of cricket because of injuries in 2022. It's something Rohit alluded to after the ODI series loss in Bangladesh, when he expressed displeasure at players pulling up with injuries repeatedly despite being passed fit.
"We need to try and get to the bottom of it," Rohit had said. "I don't know what exactly it is. Maybe they're playing too much cricket. We need to try and monitor those guys, because it's important to understand when they come for India, they need to be a 100%, in fact more than 100%."
The cases of Deepak Chahar, who was injured for much of 2022, Jasprit Bumrah, who is recovering from a stress fracture on his back, and Ravindra Jadeja, who is recovering from an ankle injury, are learnt to have been deliberated upon.
The NCA's medical team is understood to have submitted a roadmap on workload and injury management. In accordance with the new plan, a fitness and workload roadmap will be customised for each of the central pool of players, and work has already begun for it.
In addition to Yo-Yo tests, the NCA panel also recommended the addition of Dexa scans to add another "scientific layer" - in the words of a BCCI official - of testing before determining if players are fit to play. The Dexa scan is the international standard for measuring body composition and bone health - a ten-minute test that measures total body fat and includes the exact breakdown of bone mass, fat tissue and muscle in the body.
One of the other recommendations was that emerging players would "have to play substantial" amount of domestic cricket before becoming eligible for selection to the national team, a BCCI press statement said. The selectors believe this would make the players be available for all formats, and not prioritise one over the others.
Another reason for the recommendation is to ensure players are properly conditioned before entering the system. The selectors, in the past, haven't been averse to picking new players straight after a good IPL season. But with new players - like T Natarajan and Varun Chakravarthy, for example - missing more cricket than they have played in the past couple of years, because of injuries followed by treatment, rehabilitation, etc, have been a cause for concern.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo