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Not in the fitness of things
by Gulu Ezekiel
Feb 16, 2007
This World Cup is going to be robbed of a lot of its glamour if injuries to so many of the top players prevent them from participating.

Hardest hit appears to be Australia and that is no surprise considering the grueling schedule the team has been through. One must really ask if the Chappell—Hadlee series of three matches was necessary at this stage.

Captain Ricky Ponting is resting in Sydney with a bad back and ace all-rounder Andrew Symonds is doubtful at this stage. Then the sudden training accident injury to Brett Lee has put their preparations on the back foot while Michael Clarke too has been sent home to rest an injured hip.

To add to their woes, Friday saw the first time in 36 years that the world champions of 1987, 1999 and 2003 have suffered a 10-wicket defeat, that too at the hands of New Zealand who have been having a tough time of late.

Pakistan too are facing a cupboard full of problem in relation to form, fitness, drugs scares, arguments, controversies…all the usual ingredients that have gone in to make cricket in Pakistan both infuriating and intriguing. The constant rumours swirling round the eligibility of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif can hardly be good for team morale.

India have decided to rest Sachin Tendulkar for Saturday’s ODI against Sri Lanka as he is nursing a sore back, though they are no indications that it is serious. He probably just desperately needs a rest. Irfan Pathan has had some niggle or the other too for the past one week while Yuvraj Singh’s recovery from the training injury he suffered last October does not appear to be complete.

Jacob Oram has been in tremendous form for New Zealand and his finger injury—suffered in the Friday’s match at Wellington—is another major concern.

It is bad enough that the enormous workload of international matches is having such a deleterious effect on the players’ bodies (and probably their minds as well).

But the spate of training mishaps must really put a question mark on the methods employed by the coaches, physios and trainers and Shane Warne is right to point this out in regard to his bete noir, Aussie coach John Buchanan.

The World Cup though remains world cricket’s premier event with or without these injured players. The bi-annual Champions Trophy is no match for it and neither will be the inaugural Twenty/20 World Cup being staged with obscene haste by the ICC in South Africa this September.
 
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