The body of an international sportsperson often resembles that of a battle hardened soldier. The rigours of sports at the highest level leaves the frame of an athlete in tatters and anyone who has played sports at a competitive level for a few years would understand that.
While fitness levels have definitely gone up and so has the longevity of the champions on the field, proper rest is often the need of the hour for these modern day gladiators. There have been a few narratives since the news emerged that Indian captain Virat Kohli would be rested during the home series against Sri Lanka. Some bizzare, some uninformed and some borderline balderdash. When and whether Kohli needs to rest himself is a decision that he and the Indian team management are best suited to take, but it is important to understand the context behind such a call.
Numbers often don't tell the true story but they seldom fail to point towards the right direction. And in this case, the numbers do shed light on the Indian captain's massive workload. Virat Kohli so far, which is till the first ODI against New Zealand at Mumbai, has played a total of 48 competitive matches this year, including Tests, ODIs and T20s (international and domestic).
This amounts to a total of 69 days of international cricket. Add to that 48 days of pre-match training for each of these matches and that puts the number of action packed days at 117, which is a spectacularly high number. Among his contemporaries who perform a similar role in other top international sides, only Hashim Amla with an aggregate of 120 days of action has been busier than Kohli, and that too because the Indian captain missed the fourth Test against Australia and the initial few matches of the IPL due to injury, perhaps his only break from cricket in 2017.
Another interesting way of looking at a player's - since Kohli is a batsman so we look at fellow batters - workload is to see the number of balls he has faced, which is directly proportional to the amount of time spent concentrating hard in the middle. Kohli is 7th on the list in terms of deliveries faced this year across all formats, which is also the most for an Indian player.
Virat Kohli, by virtue of being one of the few Indian players to regularly play all formats, has travelled an astronomically high number of air miles. Our team of of statisticians and number crunchers at Cricketnext estimate Kohli's air miles, excluding layovers for international routes, at a whopping 61,000 kms approximately. And how much is that can be understood by the following comparisons -
The above numbers do not include the hours spent analysing videos to outfox the opponents. The time spent in brainstorming about team strategy and several other intangibles which come along with the pressure cooker job of being India's cricket captain and being the best batsman of the team. Some would argue that Kohli also enjoys a plethora of perks and privileges. But that comes in different degrees with all demanding jobs.
The New Zealand series will be immediately followed by the series against Sri Lanka. The jury is still out on whether Team India's rotation policy will indeed help to keep players fit and fresh for the rigours of international cricket. One thing is for sure, a refreshed and rejuvenated Virat Kohli could be a big weapon for Team India ahead of their first big test outside the sub-continent, when the team travels to the Rainbow Nation.
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First Published: October 26, 2017, 8:45 AM IST