1877 was the year when the game of cricket was originated and even after 140 years the game has remained the same and we are still seeing contest between bat and ball. The game has no doubt evolved but it is still played over 22 yards, 11 players participating, and in order to win you, have to score one run more than the opposition. The game has seen transformation from timeless matches to five-day matches and now in 2017 cricket has three formats in Test cricket, one day cricket and T20 cricket and they are peacefully co-existing.
The recent selection of the Indian team is allegedly being made on some kind of Yo-Yo test and it has piqued the interest of many people. What is Yo-Yo test? What it has to do with cricket? How it is impacting the sport of cricket and selection? The simple answer is in the 21stcentury, we are seeing technology taking over cricket and this is the era of perfection and everything is based on detail. Yo-Yo test, in layman’s terms, could be simply defined as the test which was developed by Danish soccer physiologist Jens Bangsbo and is a variation of the beep test that is used to evaluate an individual’s aerobic endurance fitness. The said test helps in determining endurance level, strength level of the sportsperson and his ability to withstand rigorous workload of the sport.
There are two versions of the test, level one for beginners and level two for advanced. The level two fitness test involves cones placed to mark out two lines, 20 meters apart. The player has to run between the lines and turn when the beep goes off. The pace of the beeps quicken after each minute and if the player does not reach the line in time, he or she must catch up within two more beeps. This practice is not restricted to only cricket but is also being used in sports such as football and hockey.
Is Yo-Yo test making any sense while selecting players for the game of cricket? The recent non-selection of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina for the Indian team was allegedly based on them failing Yo-Yo test. Since when did cricketers have to pass a certain test to be eligible for selection? And, if this test was applied back in the 1980s, almost 90 per cent of cricketers would have failed this test and would not have played international cricket. The likes of Sir Donald Bradman, Sunil Gavaskar, Inzamam-Ul-Haq, Sourav Ganguly, David Boon weren’t the most fittest players going around but they made their name on cricketing ability and became titans of the game through hard work and dedication.
Cricket is a game, which is played by mental skill, and not by sporting a six pack or eight pack abs. The captain of the Indian team Virat Kohli is supremely fit and talented and his fitness level is second to none, but not every player in the world can match up to him in terms of his fitness and we should accept that. Former players such as Pakistan’s Inzamam-Ul-Haq and Arjuna Ranatunga were not the fittest going around but they played excellent cricket and both went on to captain their country and played over 100 Test matches.
Cricketers are not robots and every player has his unique body and we should appreciate that. The science in the game has gone to the next level and players who work hard on their body are getting the results. But, we are also seeing beefed up fast bowlers getting injured more often because they spend too much time in the gym rather than playing on the field. At the end of the day, runs and wickets next to the’ players name matter rather than his shape and size of his body.
The BCCI, in accordance with captain Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri, wants to make the Indian team fittest in the world and their effort should be lauded. But, the primary and main factor in selection of a player should be his cricketing talent rather than his bulging bicep, toned thighs and his ability to sprint 100 meters in 10 seconds or not.
Cricket, over the years, has seen many different size and shapes of cricketers excelling and there is no guarantee that if you pass the Yo-Yo test then you will score a hundred or pick up five wickets. Former Australian skipper Steve Waugh had famously said that cricket is more mental than physical and cricket is not wrestling, where your physique matters. Indian team and management has to get its mind around fact that fitness is not everything and skill supersedes physical strength every time.