But the blame must also be shared by bowling coach Bharat Arun. A team’s bowling coach is expected to keep a close eye on the workload of his bowlers. But then, how did he miss the consequence of playing Kumar in the third ODI with five Tests round the corner? Kumar has been with the team right through in the United Kingdom and even hit the nets ahead of the third game under the watchful eyes of Arun.
Considering that the fast bowler had passed the Yo-Yo test before boarding the flight to UK — since passing the test is now a compulsion — the question on everyone’s mind is that how did the trainers fail to correctly gauge the status of his back injury at the NCA as he had been troubled by the lower-back injury from as early as the Indian Premier League.
Also, with the BCCI asking Sunrisers Hyderabad to manage his workload, it is clear that the injury had been bothering the fast bowler for a while — another sign that the Yo-Yo test cannot gauge the complete fitness of a player. If it did, the UP fast bowler should have failed the test.
This is where one falls back on someone who had been an integral part of leading the old warhorses in the Chennai Super Kings outfit to the title in the 2018 edition of the IPL — Eric Simons. The former India bowling coach, Simons, along with franchise coach Stephen Fleming had to ensure that despite having an average age of 34 and a half years, the players — especially bowlers — remained fit throughout the gruels of the T20 league.
Speaking to CricketNext, Simons said that while the Yo-Yo test was a good tool to measure the fitness levels of a player, it couldn’t be the benchmark for selection.
“Yo-Yo has its place as a measuring tool, but needs to be used in conjunction with other tests to ensure functional fitness and strength is being built. It also is a uniform way to see where the squad is and to build a history of a particular player so that you can see if fitness is improving or dropping over a period of time,” he said.
In fact, skipper MS Dhoni (36) had also spoken about having to maintain the fitness of senior guys like Ambati Rayudu (32), Suresh Raina (31), Dwayne Bravo (34), Shane Watson (37) and Harbhajan Singh (37). Interestingly, while Rayudu had a magnificent IPL — thereby forcing a national call-up — he failed the subsequent Yo-Yo test he had to undergo to board the flight to UK. A BCCI official had later informed CricketNext that Rayudu’s first tryst with the Yo-Yo test came at the national camp. So clearly, CSK didn’t depend on the test to decide on the playing XI.
The former Indian cricket team’s bowling coach — a part of the squad that ruled the Test arena under Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten in 2010 — said that using the test as a guide was in his opinion a better option as a lot of things determine the results of the test.
“It is in my opinion just a guide as it can be affected by a lot of factors such as the time of day, weather, players emotional/physical space on the day etc. But I do feel it is a useful guide and most importantly in a world where you are dealing with competitive natures, a way to subtly encourage training because guys have a natural tendency to want to improve and beat others,” he said.
With BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry questioning the logic behind making the Yo-Yo test compulsory on mail to the decision-makers, an answer to which is still to be received, India chief coach Ravi Shastri made it clear before the tour of England that under the Kohli regime, the test is here to stay.
However, board officials feel that if the team management alone will decide on selection matters, then there is no need to have selectors and the training staff can act on the advice of the management rather than the selection committee sitting down with the captain and deciding on the squad. This then leads to a scenario of conflict as the management becomes the judges of their own cause. The CoA in fact told CricketNext that all things related to the test will be decided by the team management.
It will be interesting to see if the recent spate of injuries will see a change in approach or if the Yo-Yo continues to remain an integral part of the Indian cricket team’s fitness plans.
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First Published: July 20, 2018, 9:33 AM IST