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Saturday, October 23, 2021

PCB appoints Dr Najeebullah Soomro to head revamped sports medicine department


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A PhD from the University of Sydney, he is an expert injury epidemiologist and sports scientist

The PCB has appointed Dr Najeebullah Soomro, a Perth-based doctor, to head its revamped sports medicine department. He will take over as the chief medical officer, and is expected to relocate to Lahore in October, and be based at the city’s National High-Performance Centre.

Dr Soomro is presently working as a part-time doctor with South Fremantle Football Club, a second-tier Australian Rules Football club that competes in the Western Australia Football League. An MBBS from Karachi’s Dow University of Health and Sciences, he completed a PhD from the University of Sydney with a doctoral thesis on prevention of cricket injuries.

It is this expertise on cricket injuries that the PCB will hope to utilise. Over the last decade a number of players, and fast bowlers especially, have picked up injuries and either struggled to return after rehabilitation, or to maintain pre-injury standards. That led to a significant lack of trust between players and the department, leading to a number of them seeking medical advice, services and rehabilitation abroad.

The PCB’s medical department was earlier headed by Dr Sohail Saleem, but he was forced to resign following the outbreak of Covid-19 inside the PSL bio-secure bubble last year, which led to the tournament being postponed. The PCB subsequently formed an independent fact-finding panel to review the matter, but it is still unclear if Dr Saleem was actually held accountable in the report.

According to the PCB, Dr Soomro has collaborated with Cricket Australia to create the world’s first cricket injury prevention programme and injury surveillance mobile app for community cricket. Dr Soomro has also trained as an injury epidemiologist and sports scientist, though this will be his first position in such a high-profile role.

It’s not Dr Soomro’s first stint with Pakistan cricket, though. He had earlier worked with the PCB as a member of its sports medicine committee between May 2019 and September 2020.

The appointment is part of an upgrade of the PCB’s medical department, now integrated with the high-performance centre. The domestic cricket department, which functioned separately with the national cricket academies, has also merged with the high-performance centre, which is responsible for player development for top-drawer cricket.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent

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