‘Players want a lot of games to stay in touch. You take them away from the game and they lose touch.’
Harish Kotian/Rediff.com reports.
With just a few days between the end of the IPL and the beginning of the World Cup, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the workload of the Indian players is constantly under the scanner.
Former India pacer Zaheer Khan, currently the Director of Cricket Operations at the Mumbai Indians, believes it is unfair to put any pressure on World Cup bound players with regards to the workload factor during the coming IPL.
“There has been a lot of talk around the workload for the World Cup. When the Indian team is playing the tournament we have to trust them. We have to trust the squad, each and every member. As fans, we have to take this pressure off them,” Zaheer said in Mumbai on Tuesday, March 19.
“You don’t want them to play in a tournament thinking, ‘Oh, what if I get injured?’ You are creating a scenario where players will think that ‘If I give my 100 per cent and get injured playing the IPL, I will be blamed for that’,” he added.
The 12th IPL will be held from March 23 to May 12. The ODI World Cup will begin in England on May 30 and end on July 15.
Zaheer, who played 92 Tests and 200 ODIs for India, says players need to keep playing games going into the World Cup to stay in rhythm.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to take the pressure off. Who guarantees that injuries won’t happen? One thing I have always endorsed that playing more matches always helps in that zone and rhythm is not (stopped),” he said.
“We have to make peace with the workload talk and World Cup. We understand how important it is, but we need to create a scenario where players are happy that everyone is backing and trusting them,” he added.
MI Captain Rohit Sharma revealed that he has spoken to some of his India team-mates, who would prefer playing the IPL rather than rest ahead of the World Cup.
“They say they want a lot of games to stay in touch. You take them away from the game and they lose touch,” Rohit said.
Players need to make their own decisions with regard to their workload during the IPL, Rohit said.
“More or less, it depends on the individual. You have to listen to your body at the end of the day. If the body tells you take rest, then take rest. If it (the body) can continue, then you continue, it is as simple as that,” Rohit added.
“Keeping the World Cup in mind, that is the priority. But at the moment we are here for the biggest tournament in the world (the IPL) and that is our priority as well.”
Zaheer has been part of the Indian team in three World Cups — in 2003, 2007 and 2011. He assured the media and fans that Mumbai Indians have a capable support staff to monitor players’s workload during the IPL to make sure they don’t burn themselves out or pick up some injury.
“We have able physios, trainers, who have been monitoring not only in this tournament but right throughout the IPL since the time they have been involved. Similarly, with the BCCI also, there is a monitoring system in place,” Zaheer said.
“We all recognise how important the World Cup as a tournament is and we also understand what the IPL brings to the table, and that is match practice and intensity. You don’t want a lay-off for a long time,” he added.
“For any cricketer, be it a bowler or a batsman, he needs to be in touch. Dealing with pressure, that is also going to be a huge factor in the World Cup. So we recognise and we understand that and steps will be taken keeping into consideration all the aspects,” Zaheer added.
There are a couple of spots which are still up for grabs in India’s World Cup squad and Zaheer believes the IPL could prove helpful in that regard.
“Look at the past. Has the IPL helped the selectors identify players? The answer is ‘yes.’ Has someone been picked on the basis of performance in the IPL? The answer is also ‘yes’. For the World Cup also, those slots which you are talking about, I am sure that form is going to matter. I think everyone is very keen and upbeat to grab that spot.”
Zaheer lavished rich praise on Jasprit Bumrah, who first hit the headlines with his superb performances for Mumbai Indians in the IPL.
“Bumrah is an asset to have in the team. He is very clear about what he has to do. In terms of brainstorming, if I can add anything which he feels through the discussion will benefit him, sure that will happen. And you have someone like (Lasith) Malinga as well.”
“Bumrah kind of idolises him as well. Malinga at his peak and Bumrah are two similar kinds of bowlers. Burmah has always benefitted by spending time with Malinga. In terms of strategies and mental aspects of the game, that is an evolving process,” Zaheer added.
“I am sure the chats we have over the season will benefit all the bowlers.”