“The workload is only bound to increase and it would only make sense if the management and players choose their assignments in a way that the side and the player are benefitted the most”
The ongoing Test between India and England has been the centre of attraction in the fraternity at the moment. Both the teams are battling it out in the middle with England having the upper-hand with a 1-0 lead. Captain Virat Kohli has been the man in form for India and has done a magnificent job with the bat so far. He has been the backbone across formats and has led the side with an example. He is hailed as the undisputed king of shorter formats, especially ODIs and has now stamped his authority on Test cricket as well.
England was going to be Kohli’s litmus Test and the elegant right-handed batsman has passed with flying colours so far. With two tons and over 400 runs under his belt in the series, Kohli is in the form of his life. He has looked unstoppable and done a fantastic job in the taxing English conditions. Right after the completion of Test series, India are scheduled to lock horns with their neighbours in the high-voltage Asia Cup. It’s a prestigious tournament with India being the reigning champions. What comes as a surprise to many, Indian have announced their 16-man squad for the big league and skipper Virat Kohli has been rested. Rohit Sharma has been named as the stand-in skipper in the absence of Kohli. India will be playing arch-rivals Pakistan on a couple of occasions, and if one follows the instincts, it could be thrice as they are the strongest teams to make it to the finals.
It is nearly impossible to fill Kohli’s shoes in any format; he belongs to a different league altogether. He has a knack of thriving under immense pressure and his presence is no less than a boon to any side. The MSK Prasad-led senior national selection committee has rested Kohli, which was very much expected to keep in mind the kind of workload the Indian batsman has undergone. India are scheduled to play West Indies and Australia later in the year, which might have propelled the decision.
The question is – How massively will Kohli’s absence hurt India? Did the management not handle his workload properly? Test cricket should be given priority, but was his participation in some selected shorter formats games important? Or, are they playing too much cricket? Are we making players burden of beasts? Too many questions without many answers.
It’s a known fact that contemporary cricketers do play a lot of cricket as compared to cricketers from yesteryear. Since the inception of T20 cricket, the amount of workload has only reached the sky for cricketers. Not only they have to hone their skills to meet the evolving standards of the game, but also cope up with the workload and pressure. What can one possibly do in such a situation? ‘Horses for courses’ seems to be the best option, but what about players of Kohli’s calibre, who are equally effective across formats and has been a vital cog? This is where a selection of assignments comes into play. A team and the player himself need to prioritize his assignments.
Not just Kohli, India did miss out on their key bowler Bhuvneshar Kumar in the ongoing series, who suffered a mistimed injury. He is India’s best bowler and has an incredible ability to swing the ball both ways. One wouldn’t be wrong in saying that India would have benefitted from his services in England. Right after the South African tour, Bhuvneshwar Kumar joined his side Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League, which lasted for almost two months. Then came the England tour where he suffered an injury mid-way. A fast bowler’s body is very breakable, this breed is prone to injuries. India could have managed Bhuvneshwar’s workload in such a way that he could have been fit for the high-voltage Test series. His participation in the T20I series against England was not needed or even in all games of the IPL if India had to play him in the Tests.
Talking about Kohli, in last one year Kohli has played 10 Tests, 18 ODIs and 13 T20Is along with 14 IPL games. That is 95 days of cricket. Not to forget, this also includes hectic travelling, especially during the IPL and hours and hours of relentless training. Also, a year before that, he had 101 days of duty on the field. One cannot expect the workload to come down with franchise-based cricket tournaments gaining momentum.
The workload is only bound to increase and it would only make sense if the management and players choose their assignments in a way that the side and the player are benefitted the most. In my opinion, Test cricket should be their main concern, of course with the World Cup being at the apex. As of now, India need to fill their No. 3 slot with an impactful player and it will be interesting to see if the team manages to defend their title. The road is difficult and Kohli’s services will be missed.