New Delhi: The reasons for Sanju Samson’s failure to clear the fitness test that led to his removal from the India ‘A’ squad for the tour of England could well be traced back to his recent IPL stint. It has been learnt that Rajasthan Royals, Samson’s franchise, didn’t have a specialist trainer during the tournament, leaving chief physio John Gloster and football physio Noel Augustine to share those duties. Samson featured in all 15 games for Rajasthan this season, scoring 441 runs at a strike-rate of 137.81.
Speaking to CricketNext, sources in the team set-up confirmed that while chief physio Gloster was looking after the Royals during the preparatory stage, Augustine was roped in only after he completed his stint with Indian Super League club Atletico de Kolkata in the Super Cup in Bhubaneswar.
Unlike football, cricket is not a contact sport and as per professional trainers, the planning and assessing of a player’s fitness, diet and well-being in cricket is very different from the plans that are charted out for footballers. Add to that the hectic schedule of the IPL and the need of a professional trainer becomes all the more crucial.
Interestingly, Augustine’s last assignment as fitness trainer was with Penang Football Association from December 2016 till August 2017. Even his previous assignments as per his work profile are with football clubs in India and he has no cricketing experience.
When asked about the reason behind roping in a football physio, a member of the Rajasthan Royals support staff said: "It was a call taken by head physio John Gloster and you should check with him."
While Gloster didn't respond to calls from Cricketnext, another member of the Royals unit said that even Augustine wasn't part of the set-up from the beginning.
“Augustine wasn’t available in the first half as he was with Atletico de Kolkata. It was only after their season ended with ATK’s ouster in the Super Cup that he joined the Royals,” he told CricketNext.
Kerala (Samson’s first-class team) chief coach Dav Whatmore feels the intense format of the IPL could have been one of the reasons for Samson failing the test. “I wouldn’t wish to get into a debate on the pros and cons of the test, but all I can say is that a little leeway can be given to someone who has had a long season of the IPL. He has been playing non-stop cricket and as you would know, losing weight can be an issue in-season as compared to the off-season.
“Also, sometimes fatigue does creep in as you don’t get enough time for recovery. He played for India ‘A’, came back and played Ranji Trophy for us and then the IPL. It isn’t easy,” he told CricketNext.
When asked if it was a case of indiscipline once again creeping in — as another Royals player K Gowtham had passed the test and is headed to England — Whatmore begged to differ.
“Samson had cleared the fitness test ahead of the Ranji season for Kerala. Also, he has become a lot more professional and worldly wise. The acts of indiscipline is a thing of the past as far as I am concerned,” he clarified.
But another trainer who has been associated with the Delhi team in the past said that the 17.1 mark that needs to be crossed in the Yo-Yo test is no tough task for a professional cricketer. “While one does understand that skills are as important as fitness, passing the Yo-Yo test is not as difficult as people make it out to be. As a professional cricketer, all you need to do is keep a clear head and follow the guidelines set by your trainer,” he explained. “The 17.1 mark is not as unthinkable as the media sometimes makes it out to be, especially if you are a professional.”