Prof. Arjuna de Silva extols medical team and support staff:
Injuries have been part and parcel of the Sri Lanka cricket team in recent years contributing largely to the poor standard of fielding. To say that injuries have been eradicated calls for some sort of appreciation.
“Everyone is talking about injuries in cricket now finally after about 10-15 years we have zero injuries going into the Indian tour,” Prof. Arjuna de Silva told the Daily News. “Today’s Test series Sri Lanka is going into against India we have zero injuries. There are 42 players in the squad and all of them are available for selection.”
“From the time we have been keeping count we have not had an issue like this – zero injury. I don’t know what will happen after the Indian tour but they are going into the tour with zero injuries,” Prof. de Silva emphasised.
Citing an example Prof. de Silva stated that fast bowler Dhammika Prasad was ready to play and was injury free but he was not selected because he had not played enough matches.
Prasad suffered a shoulder strain on his bowling arm during the tour of England in May last year and has not played any international cricket since.
“The whole medical team, the whole support staff all should be congratulated on that. In any international team normally 10-15 percent of their players are injured at a time. That’s an acceptable level but if it goes beyond that only it becomes an issue,” said Prof. de Silva who heads the Sri Lanka Anti-Doping Agency and helps cricket with the medical part.
Prof. de Silva attributed the vast improvement on injuries to the physiotherapy and medical teams working in harness.
“We have a good physio team and a medical team working together. Head of the medical team is Dr Harindu Wijesinghe, I am there and another two doctors altogether four. Then we have a new team physio, very talented Nirmalan (Thanabalasingham) who has come from Australia. He is a Sri Lankan born and bred in Australia. Then we have for strength and conditioning Nick Lee and then a guy called Andrew. We have a very good support staff,” Prof. de Silva said.
“We have a WhatsApp group where we keep in touch wherever we go with the physios and the rest of the team, the selectors are also in touch through e-mails so everyone is in touch. We have contacts abroad as well to get advice Dr Chamindu in the UK and Dr Siri Kannangara in Australia.”
Prof. de Silva said that to prevent players from getting injured a rotational policy was a must.
“We have to go for a rotational policy that every country is going with and for that you have to have a pool. See India has rested (Hardik) Pandya for the Tests even though he is young,” pointed out Prof de Silva. “The intensity of cricket we are playing now across three formats you have to rest players before they are injured. Injury prevention is one of the key to reducing injuries. It is important to rest players before they get injured. We have been doing that well now. We looked after Rangana Herath pulling him out when he was not feeling well. When a player feels that he is tired we must pull him out early.
“The player must also be honest to himself. Now they can’t lie because they all have to undergo a fitness test before a tour. Everyone has to pass the fitness test. We have to be very grateful for that to the Sports Minister who is very keen on fitness,” Prof. de Silva added.
“We have been monitoring the players, in the past they were never monitored. Now it is very scientific the amount of overs they bowl at practice sessions and matches everything is added up. They are not allowed to bowl too much. If the workload is too much they are pulled out even if they think they are okay.
“If you look at the Indian team they are the best in the world. They are much fitter than anyone they are very athletic and not only fit you have to be an athlete.”
Prof. de Silva said one of the key factors to reduce injuries was to reduce your weight. “It has been shown that injuries are less if your fitter. All those things have come into play, now its upto the cricketing skills to get it done. We can’t help with that but everything else is now in place. Our team is looking much better than what it was. That is a contributory factor to the reduced injuries.”