Australia reviewing player management after injury glut

Melbourne: 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.

Bureau Report

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