As it often happens, when a tour wraps up, it is usually the time when the pain of the past is brushed away and there is a sense of the team moving on. A packed schedule will do that. But while India return home for an upcoming challenge against England, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) might want to look closely at a worrying problem going ahead.
Even as the BCCI is looking to the next IPL edition – staging and hosting it, what has to be remembered is from India’s tour of Australia was the number of injury breakdowns that cut India to size and also, the fact that there were concerning reports with the team heading into a tighter contest in Brisbane – on the field in terms of the match situation and off it in terms of the coronavirus pandemic – about several players receiving treatment not only for injuries but also, exhaustion.
The idea of sedatives and prescriptions to help players unwind between Tests is quite alarming at first flesh and particularly given how the Test was set up, with barely three days between the Sydney and Brisbane Tests. Why is this even more alarming is because India, like some other cricket teams, will be going through a rather hectic 2021 to make up for the setbacks of 2020 in terms of lockdown.
There has been a lot of talk about how the players have had heightened mental challenges – not specific to India but internationally – of the requirement of staying in a biosecure bubble, having limited access to movement in the off hours and the precautions they need to take while and before entering the field.
The current schedule suggests this will be as challenging a year as last year although for very different reasons if plans go off as scheduled. It is going to take a toll on the players because the idea of a biosecure bubble and also, restricted access is likely to continue for at least half of the year. Although India had gone through a battlefield in how they held their own in Sydney Cricket Ground, the schedule on the ground suggests that little might change when the players are done at the end of the year.
Will the team still be held up by painkillers and sedatives? It is something the BCCI is also going to have to consider because while lip service has often been provided about the players’ interest being kept in mind, the challenges of a month-long bubble before the IPL and a tighter schedule to make up for a lost time, including a World Cup proposition might eventually catch up with the results. That is the last team India or their fans want.