Doctor-patient confidentiality is one thing, but the biggest surprise on the day, when a tabloid claimed that Indian skipper Virat Kohli suffered from a slipped disc, was a video of him doing the spider plank, an exercise which places tremendous strain on the stomach and back muscles.
Kohli had accepted a fitness challenge thrown by union sports minister, Athens Olympics silver-winning shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, on Tuesday and the smooth and effortless manner in which he did the plank gave no hint of the purported slipped disc. Those who are aware of the excruciating pain of a bad back know how tough it would be to even walk or do something as basic as slipping into underclothes. And here Kohli was effortlessly doing a spider plank!
The tabloid, though, claimed that he would skip his stint with English county Surrey, which was supposed to be one way for him to get acclimatised to English conditions before India’s long and testing tour starting in July.
Sources said that what Kohli suffered was a category 1 injury to his spine, which meant that he needed to be cautious and ease off on the workload. However, another report quoted an unnamed BCCI source to state that Kohli would skip only Surrey’s five Royal London Trophy 50-over matches, but would still play the two four-day matches as scheduled.
However, even as speculation and counter claims were flying fast and thick through the whole morning, the BCCI came up with a lunch-time media release that the skipper had suffered only a neck injury while fielding during RCB’s encounter with SRH last Thursday.
The release said he would miss the Surrey stint totally, and would instead undergo rehabilitation at the NCA in Bengaluru. Kohli is expected to undergo a fitness Test on the opening day of the Test against Afghanistan even if he is not part of the Indian team that would play that Test.
The aspect that is a bit difficult to digest is that a neck injury to a supremely fit international sportsman requires more than six weeks of rest and recuperation, not to forget expert treatment.
Of course the BCCI and its team of experts may be willingly erring on the side of caution, especially as it concerns India’s best batsman. The tragedy though is that BCCI does not come under RTI, nor is it transparent with its moves. In fact it would be of particular interest to know what sort of a system the Board has for instances like this.
The unanswered questions are many. For instance, did Kohli go to the team physio, Patrick Farhart, who in turn referred him to a specialist? Or did Kohli just land up in a hospital in Mumbai, and an orthopaedic doctor there decided that he was not going to be gagged by any doctor-patient confidentiality? He decided to confide to the tabloid’s reporter who in turn left the Board and its handlers running around like headless chickens before all the excessive speculation singed social media space.
Sadly, this is not the first time that the BCCI has been caught out on its lack of system. Many times in the past the Indian team has carried players with injuries, only to look foolish later.
Certainly sports–related injuries are a part and parcel of a sportsman’s life. So getting injured is not a crime as such. But there are instances of a cricketer turning up injured on a tour and getting replaced by a favourite of the selection panel or the team management.
For instance, fast bowler Javagal Srinath turned up with an injured rotator cuff in West Indies and was replaced by a little-known fielder, Noel David, who came from a selector’s home town. An unfit Zaheer Khan was sent back from a tour of England and replaced by a lesser fit, chubby RP Singh; a couple of years earlier, in Australia, Singh himself suffered a hamstring injury and was replaced by Munaf Patel, who had just recovered from injury.
There are numerous other instances of batsmen and bowlers landing up unfit. The pity is that the physio’s inputs are seldom taken to determine a player’s fitness. Nor is he consulted when the crying need would be to rest a player in order to get the maximum out of him on a tour or series.
Most of the time physios are glorified attendants whose certificate of fitness (or the lack of it, for that matter) would come in handy only for an international player to skip Ranji Trophy!
Unfortunately this is the scenario where professionalism is concerned in Indian cricket. The BCCI has taken so much care to show that the neck injury occurred in RCB’s IPL match against SRH. So why did they not debar a valuable asset like Kohli from playing the last tie against Rajasthan Royals?
And had RCB won, would he have been allowed to take further part in the IPL?
Sadly BCCI simply does not have a system to intervene and pull out players in danger of burnout or injury. On the other hand, Australia and England have pulled out contracted players whenever necessary. India meanwhile are still groping in the dark with many aspects of professional cricket.