BCCI office. © Getty Images

For the longest time, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) didn’t pay much heed to the injuries and workload of players outside the India, India A and India Under-19 teams. However, over the past year, after collected injury-related data of domestic players across various levels, the board is now in a position to monitor their workloads as well.

In a recent web conference conducted by the National Cricket Academy, which included physios from all across the country, the data gathered over last year’s Ranji Trophy season was discussed. There was also a conversation about the new ‘Return to Play’ (RTP) procedures.

“The main motto of this initiative is injury surveillance,” a senior state team physiotherapist told Times of India. “Players will have more faith and confidence in our domestic physio. It’s a process which will surely give us a results in future.”

The collected data will allow state associations and team managements to better understand and regulate the fast bowlers’ workload in a practice v match situation – understanding when and if a player may need time off between games.

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“There is so much of cricket at domestic level. Besides Ranji Trophy, there are one-day and T20 tournaments, apart from the IPL. So the workload needs to be managed properly. For example, if a fast bowler had to bowl a lot in a previous match, he can bowl less in the nets prior to the next match,” another physio said.

“The states will also think about having proper bench strength in the fast bowling department to preserve talented pacers. If it is mismanaged, we might lose good talent. By the time a fast bowler reaches the highest level, he should have optimum fitness levels. The data will also help in judging injury patterns,” he added.

This data collection process saw physios from every state association gather data pertaining to players at all levels and all age-group categories. Both fit and injured players were taken into consideration through this process.

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“The data will be useful for RTP testing. It will help in determining when a player should be back in action after injury. Physios follow different methods regarding this, because of which the chances of injury recurrence increase.”

“With baseline data, NCA will have common mechanisms and certain standards which will decide when a player returns to action. It will bring in uniformity. NCA decided to have a ‘gold standard’ method, which has some specified criteria where players need to achieve certain levels. He needs to pass a certain test,” he said.

Additionally, with physios not being able to diagnose or treat players directly during the lockdown, tele-medicine was suggested as an alternative. This would allow physios to take guidance from the NCA.

“If a physio is finding it difficult to assess or diagnose any player, he can take guidance of NCA through teleconferencing by taking an appointment,” said the physio.