Disquiet in BCCI Corridors Over Yo-Yo Test; Former India Trainer Calls it Football Centric
New Delhi: The rise of Virat Kohli the skipper has coincided with the evolution of the Yo-Yo test into a compulsory exam that all players looking to represent India must pass. The Indian captain and coach Ravi Shastri have been adamant that unless a player passes the test he cannot be part of the national squad.
While coach Rahul Dravid kept the requirement away from the India ‘A’ and U-19 team to start with, the fitness test was taken even by Dravid’s wards at the National Cricket Academy along with the senior team just prior to the Afghanistan Test. The results created ripples as Sanju Samson, Mohammed Shami and finally Ambati Rayudu failed the test and lost their spots.
While Samson was to travel with the ‘A’ team to play England Lions, Rayudu was set to make a comeback into the ODI squad and Shami was going through the test ahead of the one-off Test against Afghanistan. Interestingly, Rohit Sharma was missing when the likes of Kohli and MS Dhoni took the test on June 15 and later decided to take the test on June 17. But then, as per a senior BCCI official, the batsman had a prior commitment and requested the team management to conduct his test on June 20 which he passed.
But the hullaballoo over the Yo-Yo test hasn’t gone down too well with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials who feel that it can’t be the ultimate criteria for selection into the national team.
Speaking to CricketNext, a senior BCCI official said: “No one is saying that there should not be a standard of fitness that the professional cricketers should strive to attain. The issue here is the method in which this appears to have been implemented. No one knows who decided this and in which committee and the basis for such a decision.
“Nothing has been communicated but still it has been implemented, this is opaque and very strange. There has to be a comprehensive list of fitness markers individualized to each player in the pool and the beacon around which these markers have to rest must necessarily be talent, performance and match fitness.”
Another official echoed the sentiment and said the lack of clarity in the process is the biggest issue. “In the absence of communication about the process and the decision, there are murmurs of the institutionalization of a cosy selection club the entry into which appears to be like the legendary chakravyuha with markers known only to a limited few,” he said.
“If it is such a crucial threshold to cross and a threshold that could make or break cricketing careers and define who represents a team at the highest level, then the conduct of such a test and the fairness of it cannot be as opaque as it has become."
The official went on to add that young players coming through the ranks deserve to get a clear picture so that they can prepare accordingly. “A youngster growing up and knocking at the doors of the Indian team must necessarily know if something other than performance and accepted levels of fitness are expected from him/her. The present situation is bizarre and definitely needs correction,” he said.
In fact, Cricketnext learns, BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry has written a letter to the board members in the thick of decision-making, asking them about the rationale behind making the Yo-Yo test a criteria for selection in the Indian team.
Speaking to CricketNext, former India trainer Ramji Srinivasan said that the Yo-Yo test was primarily used by football teams to test the players as the aerobic test fits the bill when it comes to checking the stamina of footballers. For cricket, the 2 or 2.4km run is the perfect way to check the fitness condition of the players. Interestingly, the experienced trainer monitored the Chennai Super Kings players in a two-week camp before the IPL and is thus surprised by Rayudu’s failure to pass the test.
“I would suggest the 2km or 2.4km run to check the fitness standards of cricketers. The Yo-Yo test is more suited to aerobic sports like football and that is how it started. Also, fitness is a wide spectrum and it is important to keep a comprehensive approach to overall fitness and not just on endurance level. I am a bit surprised as Rayudu is very quick across the ground.
“Overall tabulation is very important to look into the various factors like strength, power, agility, endurance, flexibility etc. Cricket is more about skills and the mind and that is no rocket science. There should be a grading system depending on the format that you are looking to select a player for. Also, the cut-off marks should be different for the different age groups. You can have 5 categories with 10 points for each. So, at the end of completion of all the five test, you can hand the player his overall grade,” he explained.
Ramji further feels that fitness is to be enjoyed and only then can the overall goal of increasing the fitness standard of the team be achieved. “Fear cannot get you to improve your fitness level. You have to ensure that the players enjoy the process of getting fit and don’t fear the outcome if they fail the fitness test. Only then can the overall fitness standard of the team increase,” he said.