Source: The Hitavada      Date: 28 May 2018 11:59:51

VETERAN spinner Harbhajan Singh has rightly raised the issue of workload taken by a player and the importance of rest. The issue has cropped up in the light of Virat Kohli deciding to skip the proposed county stint in England due to pain in his neck and the just concluded hectic Indian Premier League (IPL) season. Virat Kohli had planned to have a stint in an English county ahead of India’s long tour to that country during which Indian team would be playing five Test matches and three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and Twenty-20s each. Hence according to Harbhajan Singh, the pain in the neck has come as a boon for Virat Kohli as that will perforce give the Indian Captain the much needed rest and recuperation time to bounce back with new energy and vigour to undertake the long and gruelling engagement. 

Some time back, Virat Kohli himself had broached the subject of workload and had advocated adequate rest to every member of the national team so as to avoid burn-out. On the same issue senior member of the Indian team Rohit Sharma had agreed that modern days’ cricketers are required to play almost all the year-round and said that it is a professional requirement and all international players should be prepared to accept it. In spite of this professional perception of Rohit Sharma, the argument of Harbhajan Singh and Virat Kohli in favour of management of workload for each cricketer is valid and should be respected by the selectors, the coaches and the cricket boards.

It appears that of all the international teams, the Indian team looks much over-worked as the team’s yearly calendar shows very little space for interval and rest for the players. Fortunately in recent times, the Indian selectors have large number of options to select players from for various formats of the game and also various tours. India currently has a very healthy bench strength to fulfil Virat Kohli’s wish for rest in between two series. However, though plenty of options are available to the selectors to choose from, for some key players there is hardly any respite as they form the nucleus of the team in all formats of the game. For example there is no escape for Virat Kohli, being the leader and the mainstay of Indian batting. And there are several players like him who cannot be adequately rested.

It is for this reason that Mahendra Singh Dhoni has taken retirement from Test cricket and has handed over the captainship of the team to Virat Kohli. He has restricted himself to the shorter versions of the game to reduce the workload. This in spite of the fact there is hardly any sign of any dwindling of his batting prowess, wicket-keeping abilities or energy levels. There is a lesson in Dhoni’s workload management.