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Have to be careful about using 'Yo-Yo' for selection, says Yo-Yo test creator

ANALYST
News
1.98K   //    26 Jun 2018, 16:44 IST

65th FIFA Congress Previews
Dr.
Jens Bangsbo at the 65th Annual FIFA Previews

What's the story

The Yo-Yo fitness test, which has recently been made a mandatory for selection to the Indian cricket team, has sparked major debate all across the nation. As everyone holds discussions on the pros and cons of yo-yo tests in team selection, who else would be better to speak about the tests more than its inventor himself?

Dr. Jens Bangsbo, a Danish sports scientist invented the yo-yo tests back in the 90s, and he himself has recently commented on the ongoing ruling.

The details

“The test is a tool to measure the capacity of an individual to perform in a particular event. It is not essentially a test to determine whether a player deserves a chance in the team or not. What is more important is to use this as a tool to measure and get better. The Yo-Yo's are useful as a tool to find out how to train and improve, to get the players fitter".

"This is how it is used by football clubs and that’s the constructive way. But the question is whether skill and mental capabilities are also important in a particular sport. Of course, there should be a basic fitness level for them to execute their skills well,” Dr. Bangsbo explained, as quoted by The Indian Express.

Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon chat
Dr. Bangsbo with Italian legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon while at Juventus

With a score of 16.1 being a minimum benchmark for selection in Team India, he said that the requirement wasn’t tough but added teams should be cautious for using it as a selection criterion.

“Since the level (16.1 for Team India) isn’t that high, I can sense that they are expecting a minimum fitness level in their players. You may say that a player can perform well despite not reaching that level but as a team, if it wants a certain minimum fitness level as part of its culture, 16.1 isn’t tough".

"Extremely fit footballers hit more than 20, sometimes 21. In any case, the capacity of a player and the sport which he is playing needs to be factored in to arrive at an "ideal" benchmark. But to use it for selection is different - I repeat that you have to be careful about it,” he continued.

He stressed out that players should not be rushed into the test and first-timers, in particular, should be well prepared. According to him, one had to make sure they are well recovered and not hastened into it.

In case you didn't know...

The Yo-Yo Tests have been a subject of debate for team selection, with many people including former Indian crickets questioning the importance of a test over skill.

Virat Kohli taking the yo-yo tests. He reportedly clocked the 21-mark when just 16.1 was needed to pass
MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Axar Patel

Several top cricketing nations use the Yo-Yo's as a measurement tool to check on the fitness levels of their players, but it is seldom mandatory that a player needs to pass the tests to get into the team. This is where the Indian side has decided differently, making it mandatory for players to pass the Yo-Yo to be made available for selection.

While many top cricketing nations still continue to use it, former India players have questioned the importance of test over skill. Recently, Mohammed Shami was dropped from the historic Test against Afghanistan after failing to meet the required benchmark while Ambati Rayudu, who resurrected his career in the Indian Premier League (IPL), was also removed from India’s ODI squad for the upcoming tour of England. Even Sanju Samson was left out of India A squad relating to the same reason.

Dr. Bangsbo was the former assistant coach of Serie A (Italian League) giants Juventus and the Denmark national football team. He has years of experience in the field of sports fitness, and primarily developed the yo-yo tests during his stint as Professor at the University of Copenhagen. He further went on to utilise his findings with AEK Athens, a top Greek footballing team.

Danish forward Nicklas Bendtner (R) chat
Danish forward Nicklas Bendtner engaged in a chat with Dr. Bangsbo during his stint as Danish National Team's assistant coach

What's next

The Indian squad, selected with merits on the Yo-Yo test, have arrived in Ireland, where they will play two T20Is against the hosts, on 27th and 29th June. Later, they will travel to England where they will be engaging the English cricketers on a two-month long, full-fledged tour that will feature 3 T20Is followed by 3 ODIs, followed by 5 Test matches. The England tour begins on July 3rd with the first T20I match of the series.

Author's take

The captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri are like-minded on the use of yo-yo tests as a selection criterion, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has given the required nod-on as well. Hence it is possible that the yo-yos will continue to be a deciding factor in player listings for the foreseeable future.

Virat Kohli is a strong advocate of the theory that one needs fitness along with the skill to play the game, and is also one of the best performers in the Yo-Yo's for India - his fantastic performance on the ground only adds more weight to his words.

What do you think on the Indian mandate to include yo-yo tests as a compulsory event for team selection? How do you think that will affect the team in the long run? Let us know in the comments below:

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