The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has shortlisted 20 players who will be in the schedule of things for the 50-over World Cup to be held later this year. every player.
At a review meeting of the 2022 T20 World Cup debacle in Mumbai attended by BCCI Chairman Roger Binny, Secretary Jay Shah, Captain Rohit Sharma, Head Coach Rahul Dravid and NCA Head of Cricket VVS Laxman, the Board also reiterated introduced Yo-Yo test and Dexa scan results as criteria for selection. There will be a modified roadmap for each player to follow at all times, including during their stint with the IPL franchise, in the summer leading up to the World Cup.
The yo-yo test is not new to the Indian team as it was first introduced ahead of the 2019 World Cup during the Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri era.
Initially, it was not well received by the players as players like Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Prithvi Shaw, Varun Chakravarthy, Sanju Samson and Mohammed Shami had all failed to complete the yo-yo test at various times.
But once players started to see the difference it made on the field, especially in regards to agility and movement, they increased the desired yo-yo test score from 16.1 to 17. However, in the post-pandemic world, with Covid-19 protocols in force, the team opted for a 2 km (less than 7.30 minutes) running test that was used as a fitness parameter.
With some of the key players picking up injuries despite plenty of rest, the board has gone back to yo-yo testing. In the past, players had to clear the yo-yo test score of 17. “You’re talking about things like it’s 18 for batters and 19 for fast bowlers,” Ramji Srinivasan, the former strength and conditioning coach of the Indian team that won the World Cup in 2011 and Champions Trophy in 2013, said. “Things have evolved and you have to go with the trend. There are parameters, so just relying on Yo-Yo isn’t enough. A skills-based program should also be included,” said Ramji.
According to Ramji, the Dexa scan tests are something he recommended to the BCCI and the NCA in 2011 due to the overall increase in the number of games played in a year. Dexa testing allows the trainers to measure body fat percentage, lean muscle mass, water content and bone density.
“It helps you understand where the fat is and whether the training methods are yielding results. It’s all linked to a cycle. It is part of testing protocols that should have become mandatory long ago. Some teams have been doing this for 10 years. It’s a foolproof method. Skinfold can be manipulated and different results can appear each time. But with Dexa, it will be uniform and the data will be used for the future as well,” said Ramji.
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It is clear that the BCCI went for a more scientific method after certain players hid their niggles and came back from injuries. This not only puts the responsibility on the players, but also entails the responsibility of the trainers. “For example, the fat content must be less than 10 percent. If it’s between 10 and 12, you’re on the verge of fit. Soccer players will be between 5 and 8 percent. But cricketers can stretch it to 10. Less fat means more muscle and it can give you more strength, power, speed, agility and less stress on the joints, less stress on the muscles. This way you can avoid back and knee injuries,” Ramji added.
Incidentally, a back injury saw Jasprit Bumrah out of the T20 World Cup, while Ravindra Jadeja missed it due to a knee injury. With a more tailored plan, each player now has their own routine, diet program and training method to follow depending on what the Dexa scan results show.
“Each player has his own program, which is the best choice. That was also the case before,” said Ramji. “What suits one player may not suit another and it has to be tailored differently and that is one way to avoid injuries.”
Be it the T20 World Cup 2021 or the recent edition in November 2022, India entered the field without its key players and it had a telling effect. In Australia in particular, India was left without Bumrah and Jadeja – two players who would have walked straight into the playing XI – as they rushed with last-minute changes. It meant India went back to Shami, who was only part of their T20 World Cup plans in September for the tournament to be played in October-November.
And then lately there have been instances of players breaking down regularly due to fitness-related injuries. Deepak Chahar and Washington Sundar are a prime example of the fact that the duo missed a good chunk of games last year due to several injuries at different points. Failing to win an ICC title since claiming the Champions Trophy in 2013, the BCCI has turned its attention to the 50-over World Cup to be hosted in India.
For a team with a huge talent pool and the glamor of the IPL, winning the World Cup on home soil won’t be well received. In that context, India are aware that in order to make a winning combination they need to have a fully fit team available and so they seem to have pushed the action button through the Yo-Yo test and the Dexa scan tests in to feed.