Cricket Australia’s handling of bowling arsenal needs introspection

Is Cricket Australia’s pre-match training the main cause for players unable to stay fit? © Getty Images

The issue of injuries forcing Australian pacers being ruled out of an ongoing series or being ruled out for the rest of the season has drawn some major criticism by former players. Sudatta Mukherjee tries to reason whether Cricket Australia is to be blamed for such a major issue.
In 2012, former Australian pacer Nathan Bracken sued Cricket Australia for failing to adequately deal with a knee injury, which he believes ended his career. The latest victim of injury has been Jackson Bird, who was ruled out of rest of the Ashes series with a back problem. Ashton Agar, a promising young Australian spinner who impressed on debut, was also ruled out with a viral illness.
One wonders why a series of Australian bowlers have fallen ill over time. Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Ryan Harris, Doug Bollinger, John Hastings, Mitchell Johnson, and Pat Cummins and even all-rounder Shane Watson — have all faced injury issues.
Modern day cricket demands the players to be fully fit. With a tight schedule, more and more cricketers are succumbing to injuries. A young pacer like Cummins has spent more time on the operating table and physio’s bed than he has on the field.
While many critics have blamed the jam-packed cricketing schedule, former Australian Test bowler Jeff Thomson was quoted as saying by Ten Sports, “People say they play more these days, but they forget that when we weren’t playing for Australia we played for our states. On some days I would bowl as many overs playing club cricket as I did for my country!”
He further added, “I remember at training we used to bowl until we dropped. Training was harder than games.”
Someone like Thomson used to stay fit by chasing pigs. He was more active in outdoor training than working out in the gym. Australian opener Watson has been blamed for spending too much time in the gym. Recently, Rajasthan Ranji Trophy coach Pradeep Sundaram asked his pacers to spend more time in the nets than in the gym.
Is Cricket Australia‘s pre-match training the main cause for players unable to stay fit?
Last year, Cricket Australia had come out with a plan to protect Cummins, so much so that he wasn’t allowed to play the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL). According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, CA was using “space-age science” as a part of daily training regime. The process reduces the impact of Cummins’ body weight to 70 per cent when he is running.
Then where did the board fail now?
The Australian board needs to go back to what Thomson mentions — train the way you play. If needed, they need to introspect on how to train their cricketers, especially pacers, more effectively.
The second option can be taking help from legends like Thomson and Glen McGrath.
Whatever is the case, CA is to be blamed for the young cricketers facing injury issues and they have to make sure that protégés like Cummins don’t have to have to suffer at such a young age and miss important series like the Ashes.
(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)