Wriddhiman Saha, India’s first-choice Test wicketkeeper, will be out of action for at least two months with a shoulder injury. His injured shoulder will soon be assessed to see if it requires a surgery. As of now he has been advised to not even lift a bat for two months. The India selectors and the BCCI, however, had never made it public that Saha had recovered from the thumb injury he picked up earlier this year, and that it was this serious shoulder injury that was keeping him sidelined.
This injury – which could even put him in doubt for the Australia tour – caps what has been an extremely disappointing year for Saha, who will be 34 by the time India travel to Australia later this year. After he scored 0 and 8 in the first Test of the year, against South Africa in Cape Town, he suffered a hamstring injury and was sent home. During the IPL he had injured his thumb, which was believed to be the reason for his missing the Afghanistan Test.
A BCCI press release in June had said: “Saha suffered an injury to his right thumb while playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the VIVO IPL Qualifier 2 against Kolkata Knight Riders on 25th May, 2018 at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. He was under observation by the medical staff of the BCCI and the management has decided to give him adequate rest before the start of the England Test series. Saha’s recovery period is expected to be around five to six weeks.”
What has followed raises more questions over the BCCI’s handling of injuries, its communication regarding injuries, and, more importantly, over the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru where Saha was undergoing the rehabilitation. It is learnt that the NCA medical team communicated to the BCCI that Saha will need five to six weeks of rehabalitation; it now looks like it might take five to six months.
The BCCI didn’t help matters by withholding the information that a shoulder injury – much more serious than the thumb one – existed when Saha was not picked for the Afghanistan Test. India’s injury management has been under the scanner with Bhuvneshwar Kumar already ruled out of the first three Tests in England. Bhuvneshwar, whose workload was managed during the IPL because of a back condition, was cleared to play all three formats on the long tour of England. The injury resurfaced during the ODIs; he missed the first two matches but aggravated the injury when playing in the final ODI, a day before the Test selection.
Curiously the chairman of the selection committee still believes Saha is out with a thumb injury. “Saha’s recovery from a fractured right thumb hasn’t been satisfactory. He hasn’t responded well enough to the rehab at the National Cricket Academy, in Bengaluru. At this moment, therefore, Saha is uncertain for all five Tests, not just the first three,” chief selector MSK Prasad was quoted as saying by the Telegraph.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.