The indian cricket board’s acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary has affirmed that it will keep an eye on the workload of India players during the Indian Premier League, dropping a hint that a directive could be issued to the franchises in this regard.
“The BCCI is acutely aware of the workload management of the players and you have seen that in evidence in the team selection, which was done on Friday. This was evident also a little earlier, when the team was tweaked for the last three ODIs in New Zealand. To everyone in the BCCI, it’s clear that the paramount objective remains winning the World Cup and therefore, all that needs to be done to achieve that end will be done,” Choudhary told The Indian Express.
The World Cup, to be played in the UK from May 30 to July 14, comes close on the heels of the IPL, starting March 23. India would like to keep their players fresh for the big event, especially the three frontline fast bowlers—Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami—and also wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Last November, in a meeting convened by Committee of Administration (CoA) members Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji and attended by Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ravi Shastri, Ajinkya Rahane and chief selector MSK Prasad, the Indian skipper had suggested that key pacers like Bumrah, Kumar, Shami and others in the fray for the World Cup should not play a big part in the IPL.
Among fast bowlers, Bumrah has had the biggest workload over the past 12-odd months – 10 Tests, 13 ODIs and eight T20 Internationals. Kumar during the same period has featured in two Tests, 22 ODIs and 14 T20 Internationals.
The medium pacer missed the Test series in England last year after aggravating his back injury during the one-dayers. Shami was brought back to the ODI fold during the home series against West Indies in October. With 13 Tests and nine ODIs over the past year or so, Shami apparently didn’t have that much workload to carry. But the Bengal seamer has had fitness issues in the past. In June last year, he was ruled out of the one-off Test against Afghanistan after failing the yo-yo test.
And although he has improved his fitness a lot since, his workload management needs to be spot on. A Man-of-the-Series performance in New Zealand has all but confirmed Shami’s ticket to England for the World Cup.
Moving over to the wrist spinners, Kuldeep is not a regular in the Test side but has played four Tests, 25 ODIs and 10 T20 Internationals over the past 13 months. Chahal featured in 23 ODIs and 15 T20Is between January 2018 and February this year.
Yadav is Kolkata Knight Riders’ premier spinner. But in Indian conditions, it’s easier to find a back-up for a tweaker. If KKR decide to rest the chinaman bowler for a few games, they could fall back on the likes of Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla.
Royal Challengers Bangalore have signed 16-year-old uncapped leg-spinner Prayas Ray Barman for Rs 1.5 crore. He is expected to be in the franchise’s back-up plans, should they allow Chahal to cool his heels for a few matches.
With regard to the frontline Indian fast bowlers, franchises barely have such leeway. From Mumbai Indians’ point of view, Bumrah is irreplaceable. There’s no one in the squad who can match his skill-set. Before last year’s auction, the three-time IPL champions had retained Bumrah for Rs 7 crore.
Sunrisers Hyderabad had retained Kumar for Rs 8.5 crore. The franchise has Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed (a potential dark horse for the World Cup), Sandeep Sharma and Basil Thampi in their ranks, but in terms of skill and experience, the young seamers can’t match the team’s No. 1 fast bowler.
Kings XI Punjab have roped in Shami for Rs 4.8 crore this year and given his current form, the franchise would look forward to the optimum use of their fast bowler. Also, KXIP don’t have another Indian fast bowler who can consistently hit 140k and it would be difficult for them to leave out Shami. Momentum matters in a tournament like the IPL.
It’s almost a football-like situation in a World Cup year. In football, however, clubs pay the players’ wages and reserve the last word on their workload management and/or release. The IPL franchises work under BCCI guidelines.
The BCCI hasn’t yet sent any official communication to the IPL teams with regard to workload management. On Friday, after announcing the India squads for the upcoming limited-overs series against Australia, chief selector Prasad had said that the discussion was still continuing on that front.
The acting secretary spoke a little bit more on the subject without revealing much. “Your question suggests that the franchises will be wary of resting players. It is an issue we will deal with considering that it is a World Cup and also considering that all franchises are Indians so the overall paramount interest of the entire country is doing well at the highest international level. We have been in conversation with the franchises on all issues concerning the game of cricket as well as the interests of this country and there seems to be convergence of views.”
Pleas to patriotic sentiments don’t always sit well in the world of commerce but one doesn’t have to wait too long to find out how those talks play out.
Eye on the load
31: Jasprit Bumrah has played 31 games in the last 12 months, the highest by in an Indian seamer in this span. He bowled 534.3 overs across all formats.
39: Kuldeep Yadav has featured in 39 games since the turn of 2018, with as many as 25 ODIs, 10 T20Is and 4 Test matches, sending down as many as 366 overs.
22: Mohammed Shami played only 22 games . However, he still racked up 483.3 overs, 404 off them coming in 13 Tests.