Zaheer’s injury, a sign of excess cricket, say ex-skippers

July 22nd, 2011 - 7:38 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 22 (IANS) Fast bowler Zaheer Khan’s injury in the first Test against England has led experts to re-ignite the debate on whether too much cricket is taking a toll on Indian players.

Former England captain Naseer Hussain also wondered whether Test cricket is a priority for the World’s No.1 Test team.

Zaheer, who was the top bowler for India taking both the England wickets to fall on the opening day, strained his hamstring Thursday and hobbled out of the field. He will not bowl in the rest of the first innings, though he is expected to return in England’s second innings.

Hussain felt that Zaheer, who missed the West Indies series with an ankle injury, did not look fully fit for the gruelling series.

India have been playing non-stop cricket since the away series in South Africa in January. They played in the World Cup and then the Indian Premier League (IPL) followed by the tour to the Caribbean.

Hussain said Zaheer’s absence was a “massive” blow for India.

“India is playing too much of cricket. The players went straight to IPL from the World Cup and some of them had to be rested for the West Indies tour. Obviously, Zaheer arrived here bit undercooked and a bit unfit,” said Hussain.

Unlike India, Hussain said, England have came into the big series totally prepared as their priority has always been Test cricket.

“England are ready for the Test match. The credit should go to England Andy Flower, who doesn’t allow his players to play too much of county cricket. India have to see what they want to prioritise and which is the most important form of the game for them.”

Former India captain Ravi Shastri raised the point of more practice matches before the Test series. India played only one three-day game against Somerset to acclimatise to English conditions.

“If a player is out with injury, it should be ensured that he is fully fit and bowled enough to be able to play the first Test. Questions will be asked whether S.Sreesanth or Munaf Patel should have been preferred over Zaheer.”

“A few more country games would have made him (Zaheer) ready for the first Test,” Shastri said.

Another former India captain, Sourav Ganguly, said Zaheer makes a lot of difference to the team.

“See what happened in South Africa when Zaheer did not play the first Test. We were a completely changed side with Zaheer playing in the second and third Tests.”

Ganguly, however, said that the dependency on Zaheer is not a good sign for the team. “That’s not the way to go about it. India need to come out with five bowlers, specially for overseas,” he said.

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