Bhuvneshwar's injury puts NCA under scanner again
- Bhuvi has been out of action since coming back from the limited-overs leg in the WI in August
- When the T20I squad for the home series against SA was picked, it was said that Bhuvneshwar was “unavailable”
- TOI has learnt that the bowler is nursing a hamstring and side strain, and has been carrying the injury since July last year
NEW DELHI: Where is Bhuvneshwar Kumar? Is he fit yet? And what role has the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru played in his rehabilitation? The fast bowler, a vital cog in India's pace wheel, has been out of action since coming back from the limited-overs leg in the West Indies in August. He has been undergoing strength and conditioning programmes at the NCA.
The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has not officially declared the injury but TOI has learnt that the bowler is nursing a hamstring and side strain. The selection committee has given no reason for ignoring him for the teams picked for the home games against South Africa and Bangladesh. When the T20I team was picked to take on South Africa in September, it was said that Bhuvneshwar was “unavailable”.
The NCA, it must be mentioned, has come under severe criticism in recent times after their handling of wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha’s injury.
“It’s becoming a trend now at the NCA. As it is, the institution is fighting a label of just being a rehab centre and these cases keep coming up. Saha lost a good year and half of his career,” a top BCCI official told TOI. Besides Wriddhiman, NCA was also criticized for its poor handling of the Prithvi Shaw case after the young cricketer tested positive for dope.
“If Bhuvneshwar’s injury is not as serious, they must come up with a clear explanation why it is taking him so long to get back on the field. The board announced that Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya needed to travel to England. Bumrah didn’t even need surgery,” the official added.
TOI has learnt that Bhuvneshwar has been carrying the injury since July last year, after he came back from the tour of England. His Team India stints have been sporadic since then.
“He was not treated properly. His injury was allowed to aggravate because the team wanted to take him to the World Cup. He is still one of the first choices for white-ball cricket but he needs to get back on to the field before building up for next year’s T20 World Cup,” a source said.
TOI got no response from Ashish Kaushik, physio at the NCA.
As BCCI president Sourav Ganguly meets the NCA team, led by NCA director Rahul Dravid, he will have to take stock of a lot of things besides discussing the road-map for the proposed mega centre of excellence which is running behind schedule.
TOI has learnt that the new BCCI regiment has been updated about the allegations against NCA of having a biased stance in hiring staff at the academy.
“The process to hire S&C (strength and conditioning) coaches and physios was rushed after multiple changes in the eligibility criteria even as the board was going to elections and Dravid was about to take charge as the director,” the official claimed.