Former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan believes that India and Australia jumping from T20s to Tests in the forthcoming series is less than ideal, due to the drastic length jump, and fears it could lead to injuries. Pathan believes it will be of paramount importance to manage bowlers’ workload.
After months of confusion, with even the possibility of the tour happening looking grim at one point, Cricket Australia finalized the itinerary for the India tour last month, in which the two sides were primed to go toe-to-toe with each other first in ODIs, followed by T20Is, and then finally the Tests. The turnaround between the formats - despite there being warm-up games prior to the Tests - is extremely short, meaning the time for recovery will be negligible, and this has brought into focus the workload management of the fast bowlers, with both sides hinting that their spearheads might be rested in shorter format games and preserved for red-ball cricket.
Due to the congested nature of the scheduling, there exists a fear that players might get overworked, and in turn get injured, and looking ahead to the series, former all-rounder Irfan Pathan echoed the same sentiments. Pathan, who is currently in Sri Lanka to participate in LPL, emphasized the importance of workload management and claimed that the switch from T20s to Tests is less than ideal.
“I would have been worried had Indian cricketers not played any kind of cricket. They have played two months of IPL, so they have bowled for at least four overs. But yes, workload will be the key,” Pathan told Sportstar.
“Ideally, you should be transitioning from one day cricket to Test cricket. It’s a bigger jump when you shift formats from T20s to Tests, because you are bowling four overs, and then suddenly you are expected to bowl 20 overs. It is challenging. Sudden change in format could lead to injuries. But then, they have some time to prepare.”
Losing Virat Kohli for three Tests, owing to the skipper going on paternity leave, was considered a huge blow for the side but on Tuesday, it was revealed that there was a high possibility of speedster Ishant Sharma missing the first three Tests, due to recovery and Australia’s quarantine complications, thereby piling on the misery for the visitors. Pathan admitted that Ishant’s absence will be a big blow and added that the forthcoming tour will be a test of character for the Indian boys, who are currently second in the revised World Test Championship table.
“Ishant’s injury is a big blow as well because he is an experienced campaigner. The kind of flight and the bounce he generates, that actually helps in playing in Australia. He also guides others to gain confidence.
“It will be a challenging tour for sure because Australia is a tough place to play cricket. The absence of the important players will also make a huge impact. But this will be a test of character for the Indian team.
“Your main guys are not there, so if India has to win in Australia, the team has to play really well as an unit. It will not depend on one or two guys.”
The forthcoming two-month long tour will be unlike any other, due to strict player regulations owing to the pandemic, and Pathan insisted that it was important for the management to ensure that players stayed in a good headspace, mentally. The Indian team are currently in soft quarantine, but the Australian government is expected to provide relaxations once the 14-day period invariably comes to an end.
“Whenever we would go for long tours to Australia, we would go out for meals, hang out. We had that freedom, but this time, that’s not there. But players around the world have accepted the fact that this is how things are and we need to get used to it.
“The team management will also have a key role to play in terms of keeping the players motivated. It is important to maintain a happy space and in case someone needs attention, they should take care of it.”