Keeping players fit and injury free will be a major challenge for teams

Mumbai: The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 has ended for Kyle Jamieson, Will Jacks and Rishabh Pant even before the action has started.

Shreyas Iyer and Lockie Ferguson are struggling with injuries and look doubtful starters and may even miss the tournament altogether. India’s pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah is still recovering from an injury and things are not yet clear whether he will represent Mumbai Indians in the IPL or not.

Injuries are part and parcel of a sportsperson’s life and every player dreads falling prey to them — not only at the start of prestigious tournaments but also during the event and ending up missing matches.

Iyer is expected to miss at least half of the IPL 2023 season while things are not clear how much time Ferguson, who was traded from Gujarat Titans to Kolkata Knight Riders a few months ago, will need to recover from the hamstring injury he suffered just before the start of New Zealand’s ODI series against Sri Lanka while Pant had suffered grave injuries during a car crash in December and has just about started walking with assistance.

While the Chennai Super Kings have brought in Sisanda Magala as a replacement for Kyle Jamieson (back injury); Michael Bracewell has joined Royal Challengers Bangalore as a substitute for Will Jacks (muscle injury). Besides, Mumbai Indians have lost Australian pacer Jhye Richardson, who has undergone surgery for a hamstring problem, and Rajasthan Royals are sweating over the back injury Prasidh Krishna is recuperating from.

Tackling injuries to players before the start of the IPL 2023 is not a major issue for the franchises as they can seek and get like-for-like replacements, a matter of major concern for them is the injuries the players suffer during the tournament.

Injuries putting players out of circulation is a matter of concern for all franchises during the IPL, especially in a lengthy tournament like IPL 2023. With 10 teams in the fray, each franchise will be playing 14 matches — facing the four other teams in their group twice (home and away), four teams in the other group once and the remaining team two times. The knockout stage will involve four matches.

With the tournament spread over nearly two months (from March 31 to May 28) and involving a lot of travel because of the home and away format, a player’s body will suffer a lot of wear and tear and quite a lot of players will end up playing with niggles.

But it is the major injuries that could give not only the players and their IPL franchises but also their national federation sleepless nights as players getting hurt would mean them missing playing for their nation. It will not only end up upsetting the combinations in their T20 franchise but also the national team.

With the 50-overs World Cup scheduled to be held in India in October-November this year, teams can’t afford to lose key players to injuries as that would upset their preparations for the World Cup and also disturb the team balance.

Missing the opportunity to play the full tournament or even matches in the lead-up to the World Cup will also hit the finances of the players.

Following India’s defeat to Australia in the three-match ODI series, skipper Rohit Sharma has raised the issue of congestion in the calendar. Playing more matches will mean more stress on the players’ bodies and would eventually lead to the breakdown of players.

With India scheduled to play the World Test Championship Final and the Asia Cup after the IPL and then go into the World Cup, some of the star players will end up playing a lot of matches. With the players looking jaded and suffering from fatigue, they tend to fall prey to major injuries and thus miss tournaments altogether.

Former India captain and head coach Ravi Shastri has suggested that the board should indulge in major workload management for the players and also get the IPL franchises to take care of the players and if need be, stop the players from playing in IPL.

“The establishment and players will have to sit across the table. You need that much cricket and you need to give certain break. Even if it happens to be IPL. Board has to take the stand there, tell the franchises, ‘listen, we need them. India need them. For India’s sake, if he doesn’t play those games, it will be good’,” he was quoted as saying in the media.

Though the players being rested for the IPL is not something about which any of the stakeholders will be very enthusiastic, keeping the players fit, fine, fresh and injury free would therefore be a major endeavour of all stakeholders during the upcoming IPL.

They should be ready to do anything and everything to ensure that the players avoid injuries during this IPL as that may have a cascading effect on the World Cup too.


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