Washington Sundar goes from Most Valuable Player to Most Injured Player

Washington Sundar had simply begun to take pleasure in life in Lancashire. The wickets had been piling on; in 4 video games, he nabbed 11 at a median of 25, wholesome numbers for somebody thought-about a part-time spinner in first-class cricket. Final week, he produced arguably the ball of the month when an off-break of his spun devilishly from exterior off-stump to sneak by means of the defences of Kent’s Jordon Cox. The runs — he’s self-admittedly a batsman who can bowl — too had began to circulate. He struck an on the spot chord with the Previous Trafford devoted — he’s sociable and chatty, engages the followers in addition to junior cricketers.

The English summer time grew to become sunnier when he was picked for India’s fly-by-night ODI collection in Zimbabwe. After which, inevitably, his summer time of content material, turned darkish. He damage his left shoulder when making an attempt to dam a boundary-bound ball throughout a match towards Worcestershire within the Royal England Cup, 5 days earlier than his flight to Harare. Although the harm is just not too extreme to maintain him out of cricket for a very long time, the 22-year-old misplaced one other comeback avenue, one other shot at emphasising his explosive abilities.

It has been the curse of Washington. Each time he appears to nail a spot within the workforce, in all codecs, each time he unzips one other dimension of his sport, each time the pundits solid him as the subsequent massive participant from the nation, he courts one harm or the opposite. Earlier than the tour to England final 12 months, a Mohammed Siraj quick ball throughout a web session fractured his finger. Six months later, simply earlier than the tour to South Africa, he acquired contaminated with Covid-19. As quickly as he recovered and was readying for the encounters towards Sri Lanka, he pulled a hamstring. Then in the course of the IPL, he injured his finger once more. And now the shoulder harm that has jeopardised his Zimbabwe tour. It has been 15 months of accidents and rehabs, of remedy tables and painkillers, with a bit of great cricket squeezed in.

The prolonged checklist of accidents meant he has not batted in a Check innings after his 96 not out towards England at Motera in 2021, not featured in a T20I because the one towards England on the similar venue in the identical 12 months, missed the World Cup the place his abilities would have been priceless, and will determine in simply three 50-over video games towards the West Indies in a uncommon injury-free spell.

Immense potential

In a merciless twist to his profession, he has moved from being the Most Invaluable Participant, in keeping with former India head coach Ravi Shastri, to the Most Injured Participant within the span of one-and-a-half years. The promise he holds is immense — if he might enhance his bowling by a notch, he might evolve into a real all-rounder in Exams; if he might step up his batting, he may very well be a sterling all-rounder in white-ball cricket. As it’s, he’s a batting all-rounder in Exams and bowling all-rounder in 50- and 20-over cricket.

He has but to play a head-turning knock in white-ball cricket, however in his few red-ball outings, he has furnished ample proof of his composure and adaptableness. In Brisbane, he tamed the bouncing ball with none apparent discomfort; in Chennai and Ahmedabad, he conquered the spinning ball with out breaking a sweat. His numbers in white-ball cricket are humble, however the expertise is clear. “He has the flexibility and he belongs at this degree and he can go a great distance. If he might concentrate on his bowling, India might have an excellent quantity six for all situations,” Shastri had as soon as noticed.

There are arguably higher batsmen within the nation, however none, alas, can bowl. Washington can, and it’s this dimension that makes his inventory skyrocket. One in every of India’s obvious cracks over the past decade — one which has arguably stood between them being world-class but not World Cup-winning class — has been the absence of a batman who might bowl spin. As soon as upon a time, India had a lot — Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar and even Suresh Raina at instances as an illustration, or Shastri himself and Kris Srikkanth within the previous period. At their greatest, they’ve received video games, and infrequently stuffed in for a specialist bowler who was enduring a foul day. Washington’s bowling is extra multidimensional than all these names — he’s thriftier, might take the brand new ball, is acquainted to Powerplay tunes, can bowl within the center overs in addition to on the demise. A T20 financial system charge of 6.91 is price gold at the moment. Thrift is just not his solely forex — he picks wickets, largely with the bounce he generates together with his top and over-spin. There may be understated subtlety – he has numerous launch factors and cleverly modifications his tempo. He turns the odd ball. Some cease at batsmen, most skid on.

Ought to his batting in white-ball cricket too come of age —he’s 22 in any case — he may very well be the actual deal. He would deliver immense flexibility to the enjoying eleven. On a spin-friendly observe, he affords India to select three spinners with out compromising on the batting or the pace-bowling division. On a seaming deck, his presence ensures that the spin dimension is just not weakened on the expense of an additional seamer. To select an additional batsman, or an additional bowler, Washington offers the flexibleness to change the workforce’s permutations in keeping with the situations. He and a fully-fit Hardik Pandya would make the batting in addition to the bowling line-up longer, the dual axes that retains the workforce’s steadiness intact. Add his on-field acrobatics and also you get a beneficial modern-day white-ball utility package deal. Extra in order the 50-over World Cup at house is only a 12 months away and Ravindra Jadeja’s consistency in white-ball cricket has been waning.

Give attention to health

Washington may very well be what his mentor Shastri was to his workforce for a decade — a participant for any function, any situation, any state of affairs. “Higher than me,” was Shastri’s reply when requested about whether or not he sees a little bit of him in Washington. “I feel Washy has much more pure capability than I had and may bat at No. 4 for his state in each format,” he had mentioned.

However the appreciation comes with a caveat, a most vital one. “I feel it’s as much as him actually to do the laborious yards on health. No excuse. He can’t rely upon X, Y, Z. He has to take a look at himself within the mirror and say I need to work laborious and I need to be the main all-rounder in Indian cricket over the subsequent three years. And he can do it. Simple,” Shastri had remarked on ESPNCricinfo’s TimeOut.

As a lot as engaged on his health, Washington must be cautious of not injuring himself. Hurting a finger when batting on the nets owes to clumsy judgment; injuring the shoulder when diving stems from poor diving approach; spinners tearing hamstrings betrays an absence of health. It’s the time, like Shastri had mentioned, “to look within the mirror” and “work laborious.” In order that he can see extra sunny days on the sphere than bleary days in rehabs.

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