IPL: Injury Premier League
Another season of Indian Premier League was done and dusted. When compared to the previous seasons, there was a massive set of expectations on the recently concluded edition of IPL - fresh auction, the return of two franchises, brand new broadcaster, INR 16,347.50 crore television and digital rights, 100 commentators for a franchise based T20 tournament, Decision Review System, and plenty more.
In the end, it is fair to admit the fact that IPL 11 was a huge success. It completely exceeded everyone’s expectations. IPL 2018 had everything - umpteen last over (close) finishes, 'Midas touch' of veterans, brilliant exhibition of talents by young gems, excellent commentary & analysis team, breathtaking catches, and plenty more.
Apart from the occasional controversies, 'Injuries' are the primary ‘grey area’ in the history of IPL. IPL 2018 is a perfect example of this claim. Shane Watson played 2018 final with the hamstring injury. Chris Lynn and Andre Russell were never 100% fit in the entire tournament. Wriddhiman Saha had suffered a thumb injury against Kolkata Knight Riders in the playoffs. Owing to this injury, Saha was ruled out of the upcoming test match against Afghanistan. Even Virat Kohli’s much-awaited country cricket debut never kicked off due to the neck injury he suffered in this year IPL.
Mustafizur Rahman had reportedly picked up an injury on his foot during his stint with Mumbai Indians. He failed to report this injury immediately to the Bangladesh team management. Late examination on the injury ruled him out of the recently concluded T20I series against Afghanistan.
"We didn't know about his injury. That he was injured wasn't even the frustrating part. There is nothing we can do with the injury, but he is a key component in the set-up of the team. We are going to miss him a bit. It has given a chance for someone else to step up. Had we known about his injury earlier, I don't know if we could have done something to get him back on the park quicker, but the game he came to play, a warm-up game... if we would have known about the injury, for sure he wouldn't have played those games. It's the second time Mustafizur has come back from the IPL with an injury. We need to look at that. We need to assess that. Unfortunately, when you play the game there is chance you will get injured. We need to make sure we keep him fit and get him stronger because he is young, talented and has everything to offer. We need to get his mind right, and get his bowling up to the standards he can be." - Courtney Walsh, Interim Bangladesh Coach
Player's picking up an injury during IPL and missing a tournament after IPL is not a new thing in world cricket. Way back in 2009, Virender Sehwag (Delhi Daredevils) picked up a shoulder injury against Deccan Chargers during the IPL semi-final. As a result, he was ruled out of the ICC T20 World Cup 2009. In fact, Sehwag’s injury was kept as a secret at that time.
Cramped schedule, frequent traveling and less number of rest days between matches were the primary factors behind these injuries. Players get a very little time to refresh themselves during IPL.
Looking ahead, ICC World Cup 2019 is slated to begin on May 30. IPL 2019 will most probably start in the last week of March, and it can extend until 2nd or 3rd week of May. With World Cup immediately following next year’s IPL, every International team management will be prudent on their player’s workload. It would not be a massive surprise if teams like Australia and England restrained their players from participating in IPL 2019.
In particular, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are heavily tipped to miss next year’s IPL. Their unavailability will be a massive blow to Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians respectively. These players already missed the entire 2018 edition due to injury. In the 2018 auction, Starc was bought by KKR for a vast sum of INR 9.4 crores. Based on Cricket Australia’s decision next year, there is a considerable chance that the respective franchises may release these players ahead of the upcoming season.
Apart from the injury concerns, 2019 IPL can be shifted out of India due to general elections. In short, a tough 2019 awaits Indian (Injury) Premier League.