‘We are not forcing any injured player to play’

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Congress MP and BCCI Vice-President Rajeev Shukla tells Kunal Majumder the board is worried about player burnout

Isn’t the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) ignoring the grievances of the players regarding fatigue? Reports suggest that key players have sent an SOS to the board...
Let me make it very clear right away that no player has written any letter to the BCCI complaining about fatigue. It’s all rubbish. There is absolutely no truth in it. As far as the internal correspondence between the coach and the BCCI is concerned, it is an ongoing process that keeps happening all the time.

So, are you saying that Indian cricketers have absolutely no complaints about the hectic international schedule?
The BCCI is very much concerned about the hectic schedule and growing fears of player burnout. We are taking all precautions and that is why we have expanded the bank of players. So, there are many number of good players available for each and every slot. Whenever a player feels tired or he cannot perform well because of an injury, he can contact the officials or the selectors and let them know. He will be given adequate time to recuperate. Whenever he feels that he is fit to play again, he can inform us. BCCI never has a problem if a tired player wants to take rest. That has always been our policy. [On 15 August, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had complained in a press conference about the increased workload on the bowlers.

What is the need for the BCCI — the richest cricket board in the world — to play so many matches? Are you only interested in making money?
That’s not true at all. The BCCI’s single-minded focus has always been to look after the welfare of the Indian cricketers. Our players are the world’s best paid cricketers. We even give pensions to all retired players. Everything possible is being done by the BCCI. We are not eating up the money.

However, the international calendar is very hectic. There are so many tournaments planned and we have to fulfil all the bilateral commitments. There is huge demand from different boards to play against India. Despite these commitments, we try our best to make sure that our players are not overstretched. Still, the calendar is such that it is impossible to have a long gap between tournaments.

But, isn’t it true that the BCCI is facing plenty of problems while scheduling the tour calendar?
No, there is no problem with planning or lack of coordination. If there is anything like that, we will work it out.

Why aren’t the players being rotated as planned?
The players’ bank has been expanded and we have sufficient players in the roster. We are not forcing any tired or injured cricketer to play. If a player feels that he’s not able to give 100 percent to the team, he will be immediately replaced. We have enough quality fast bowlers, openers and wicket-keepers in reserve.

Are the team management and the BCCI on the same page when it comes to team performance?
The team management is also part of the BCCI. So, both performance issues and the modalities of tour planning are being looked into. But we always keep in mind the fact that our players should get adequate rest.

Given the growing rate of injuries, do you think that the best players will be available for the 2011 World Cup?
Definitely. We will be sending the best possible team to next year’s World Cup.

PHOTO: SHAILENDRA PANDEY

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