Prevention is only cure to injury issue

Dale Steyn, the world's best fast bowler, recently gave credit to his Cricket South Africa coaches and trainers for keeping him fit through the optimum management of his workload. Over his eight-year career, Steyn has played 58 Tests but only 66 ODIs and these numbers point to the judicious preservation of an asset.

Zaheer Khan, India's strike bowler, has played 200 ODIs and 85 Tests but more confoundingly, at 34, he continues to be fielded in all three formats.

It maybe a coincidence that up to six of India's reserve fast bowlers are injured but the current predicament is also an opportunity for the Indian cricket board to introduce an effective system for the management of a fast bowler's workload and injury rehabilitation.

Lack of awareness on the part of selectors with regard to the fitness of a key bowler was exposed when Uttar Pradesh's Praveen Kumar was initially picked last year for the ODI series at home versus West Indies and the Tests in Australia while still suffering from a rib injury.

Praveen had led the attack in England, bowling long spells and taking 15 wickets in three Tests. Of late, a string of injuries have contributed to his ordinary form in fifty-over cricket but he could have been nurtured for Tests. Praveen's is not an isolated case of mismanagement.

Zaheer missed the first Test in South Africa, was ruled out of the Test series in Sri Lanka in 2010 and limped out of the Lord's Test. Ishant Sharma had played with a dodgy ankle in Australia and had to subsequently undergo surgery, keeping him out action for over five months. Sharma is fit now but his longevity could be determined by how smartly the physios, trainers and coaches combine to ensure he is available to play whenever India needs him for Test cricket.

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