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Anupam Pratihary - Straight Drive

Tennis world has a solution for Indian players...

Thursday, June 11, 2021
Did Team India deserve Viru episode?

Just ahead of the Super Eights stage of the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 championships, reigning champion India look distracted. The team cannot be blamed entirely but that’s not the point. The question is why Sehwag’s injury couldn’t be handled more carefully. Wasn’t the controversy absolutely unnecessary and avoidable? Whichever way one looks at it, Team India surely didn’t deserve it smack in the middle of a premier tournament.

The intention is not to blame anyone for it, on the contrary the premise is how it could have been avoided. Perhaps, tennis world has a lesson or two to offer to both the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), India captain MS Dhoni and Virender Sehwag.

A good three weeks ahead of Wimbledon, reigning champion Rafael Nadal admitted that he is carrying an injury — tendinitis in the right knee — but will try to recover in time to play The Championships.

Rafael Nadal admitted his injury ahead of forthcoming Wimbledon, why couldn't you Mr Sehwag? © AFP

“I will give 200% to be at 100% for the most important date in world tennis,” said Nadal. “I will not go out and play on any court, let alone Centre Court at Wimbledon, if I am not 100%... I will be working on my recovery through physiotherapy treatments as well as recovery work on the specific muscular area,” Nadal said before pulling out of the Queen’s tournament.

On the other hand, the newly-crowned Roger Federer has also gone on record saying he is emotionally exhausted and needs time to recover to be 100 per cent fit going into Wimbledon. He cited the reason to pull out from Weber Open — a pre-Wimbledon tournament.

“I sincerely apologize to the tournament organizers, my competitors, and my fans in Germany,” he went on. “I only hope they will understand that I still feel emotionally overwhelmed and exhausted by the incredible events (winning the French Open) of the past few days,” said Federer rather apologetically.

Both Nadal and Federer’s remarks reflect three things: honest work ethic, professional approach and commitment to the game and fans.

Perhaps they know the merit and importance of playing with ‘a straight bat’ even though they play a different ball game. The fact that Nadal chose to admit the fact that he is struggling with his knee injury goes to show his work ethic.

Further, the admission of both the players reflects commitment to the game and fans and the reason they did not keep them in the dark.

Is there a lesson for Virender Sehwag? It’s a no brainer; there surely is. The opener admittedly picked up this shoulder injury during the IPL-2 semi-final. Surely, the admission could have come a lot earlier and saved the team, captain and the board a few blushes and more importantly a distraction just ahead of Super Eights stage, which the team simply cannot afford.

For a moment, let’s look at the severity and seriousness of Sehwag’s injury — Grade-I shoulder injury.

Grade-I shoulder injury is a case of shoulder separation, which is different from dislocation. It’s other wise known as acromioclavicular separation or AC separation. Shoulder separation is usually caused by a direct fall on the shoulder. The blow to the shoulder results in either sprain or tear of one or both of the ligaments that support the AC joint.

Mr Sehwag, your injured right arm should have been in a sling instead. © AFP
Since Grade-I injury does not require surgery, the arm involved is put in a sling to restrict its movement and help the shoulder to recover in a couple of weeks time. In case of Sehwag, there was no sign of Sehwag’s right arm in a sling. Instead, he was seen carrying his son with his right arm. That’s certainly not the kind of weight-training a doctor would advise to a patient with Grade-I injury. This goes to show that both Sehwag and the team physio took the injury lightly. And since it’s already been reported that Sehwag may have to undergo a surgery, the injury is certainly more severe than Grade-I.

Hiding injury and not seeking professional help in time is grossly unethical and unprofessional. Such a conduct is not expected from a top-class international cricketer.

Perhaps, Dhoni was in the knowledge of Sehwag’s injury and therefore he had a plan B ready with Rohit Sharma as an opener. What perhaps Dhoni could have done as a captain was ask the BCCI officials to arrange for appropriate medical examination and its report.

The BCCI could also have played its part a tad more professionally by taking timely action and briefing the press before it snowballed into a full-fledged controversy. Why wait till the media is flooded with speculations or sniff something amiss. Zaheer Khan’s injury could also have been handled properly and the media informed at the earliest rather than at the last moment.

The BCCI and media should have a good working relation where the board informs the media about the developments relating to the team and the players at the earliest. This would effectively put an end to speculation and discourage the media’s practice of digging into their sources.

On the other hand, the India media should also have exercised restraint and caution during important events such as World Twenty20 tournament. There was no need to rake up the issue of skipper Dhoni and his deputy Sehwag not getting along. It may be true but broaching the issue during a premier cricket tournament served no purpose. All it did was create bad blood and distraction, which Indian team didn’t deserve.

Let the Sehwag episode be a lesson for all the four parties — the BCCI, captain, players and media. An effective working relation and professionalism is perhaps where the answer lies. Is it asking for too much?