Australia reviewing player management after injury glut

Monday, 9 January 2012 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters : Australia’s embattled cricket board has defended its player management practices in the face of withering criticism following a raft of injuries that have gutted the team’s bowling unit.

James Pattinson was added to a long casualty list in the wake of Australia’s victory in the second test against India last week, the fiery 21-year-old to miss the rest of the four-test series after scans revealed bone stress on his left foot.

Pattinson, the form bowler of Australia’s cricket summer with 25 wickets in his first four tests, joins Pat Cummins on the sidelines. The 18-year-old was struck down by a heel injury that flared during his six-wicket debut in the second test victory against South Africa in November.

Swing bowler Mitchell Johnson was ruled out of the India series with a toe injury, while all-rounder Shane Watson is unlikely to play a part as he battles to recover from a strained hamstring.

The crammed casualty ward has placed Cricket Australia under the microscope with former players and pundits accusing the team’s handlers of either flogging their troops too hard or failing to build up their endurance for the rigours of test cricket.

Team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris defended the cricket board’s player management but said it had launched a detailed probe into the recent injury glut with a view to improving practices. “We’re going back and looking at every injury, looking at workloads, how they felt, what they reported, and just seeing if we could have intervened to make a difference,” Kountouris said in comments published by local media on Sunday.

“Sometimes you can look at one or two small things and say ‘okay, maybe we could have done this better or done that better.’

“There’s no real answer.”

Kountouris said players’ varied workloads involving the full gamut of Twenty20 cricket, one-day matches and five-day test matches had complicated the task of keeping players fit.

“The amount of cricket people are playing is different and the formats are different so it’s not as simple as how much they’re doing,” he said. “It’s often the change from going from low workloads to high workloads, that’s not good for anyone.

“And there’s nothing to say we’re getting any more injuries than in past.

“We’ve just got to embrace it (changes) and get better at it (identifying and managing injuries).”

Australia have brought in Mitchell Starc to replace Pattinson in a 12-man squad including injury-prone paceman Ryan Harris for the third test in Perth starting on Friday. The 32-year-old Harris, Australia’s form bowler last year, is under consideration to join a pace attack with Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle at the WACA ground, despite having had only domestic Twenty20 matches to prove his fitness in recent weeks after suffering from a hip injury on tour in South Africa.

Australia lead the test series 2-0 after wins in Melbourne and Sydney.