Virat Kohli‘s much-anticipated county stint has been cancelled with a neck injury suffered during his penultimate IPL on May 17. The India captain will not be training for the next three weeks with a BCCI press release saying he will only resume on June 15 at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. He will then undergo a fitness test before he leaves for a full tour of England in July.
The speculation around Kohli’s fitness began with the Mumbai Mirror reporting that he saw an orthopaedic surgeon in suburban Mumbai, who diagnosed a herniated disc, which could lead to his missing the Tests in England if not handled properly. The BCCI was quick to deny there had been any such injury, but its media release later in the day didn’t specify what the nature of the problem was. All it said was Kohli suffered the “neck injury” when fielding against Sunrisers Hyderabad a week ago. He still went on to play the next match two days later, which Royal Challengers Bangalore lost.
“The BCCI Medical Team is confident that Mr Kohli will regain full fitness ahead of India’s upcoming tours to Ireland and England,” the release said.
Kohli had signed the county deal with Surrey after long deliberation, which also caused friction within the board because it meant he will miss India’s Test against Afghanistan in June. When the deal was signed, Surrey announced he was going to be with them for the whole month of June, but India picked him for the T20Is against Ireland, which would have clashed with his third first-class match for Surrey. A late realisation was that he was expected to play even domestic one-dayers, five of them. Now the clash is out of picture with Kohli racing to be fit in time for the Ireland T20Is. A source with Surrey said they were unaware of Kohli’s injury until Thursday morning.
Kohli’s preparation for the England tour has been a matter of interest because he had a forgettable Test series there in 2014, scoring 134 runs in 10 innings. Also, the India coach Ravi Shastri and CoA chairman Vinod Rai have acknowledged the preparation for the South Africa tour earlier this year was not adequate.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.