Nehra in favour of IPL participation ahead of World Cup
Ashish Nehra (Image courtesy: Twitter)

Ashish Nehra is the latest to weigh in on the debate surrounding players’ workload management in the IPL ahead of the World Cup. The IPL runs from March 23 to May 19 – almost two months and while many former and current cricketers have expressed concerns regarding the participation of players in a tournament as grueling as the IPL, Nehra, the bowling coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore, feels otherwise.

Nehra, who took up the post in 2017 and was confirmed as coach last September, believes “the more players play, the merrier it is.”

“I am a firm believer, not only as a fast bowler, but even as a cricketer, that the more you play, you will get better,” said Nehra in Bangalore on Saturday. “If a player is saying that ‘I’m feeling fatigued and I’m feeling tired and I need a break for two games’, then so be it. That’s why you need good back up. I got injured in World Cup semi-final and after that I didn’t play the IPL. This debate will always be there – country first or club first. Here you have a responsibility to the franchise also.

“If somebody tells Virat Kohli that you are not playing this IPL, come fresh for the World Cup, I don’t think it’s the right way. If he’s only practicing, that practice is different. But IPL is a pressure tournament, it is as good as international cricket, that’s why everybody wants to play… so you are going to the World Cup through that pressure. If I’m a bowler, I keep bowling yorkers or keep bowling good length balls, I have to do the same thing in the World Cup. But if I’m sitting at home, and have not played cricket for six weeks, and some XYZ is going to think I’m going to deliver in the World Cup, it’s wrong.”

The IPL, in the past, has led to countless injuries, and with India scheduled to play their first World Cup match against South Africa on June 5, it leaves the players roughly three weeks’ time to freshen up.

“If you’re not injured, three weeks is enough time. If someone tells me, ‘you bowl in the IPL final today and then for the next three weeks you don’t bowl, and then bowl straight away against South Africa’, I would not like to do that. Active rest is very important for anyone. Doesn’t matter how tired Virat Kohli is…he might stay away from the nets for maybe a week, or 10 days at most. The last 11 days, he wants to have 7-8 sessions. So in the end it’s all about how the individual is feeling.

“The more you play the better you get. I can understand if the IPL final is on the 12th and the first World Cup game is on the 16th, then you might feel Bumrah or Bhuvneshwar or Shami…they have played 10-11 IPL games and they are not comfortable. Some bowlers may come up to me and say, we are fresh, the more we play the better we feel. Some won’t say that. Everyone is different. As the tournament progresses, we will see.”