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Team India's fitness level applauded by Mumbai Indians physiotherapist Paul Chapman

Chapman, who is also the sports science manager at New South Wales Cricket, said Indians have a natural advantage in terms of mobility

virat jaddu
The likes of Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja are among the fittest, most athletic members of Team India
 

It was not so long ago when the Indian cricket team players were not considered to be the fittest in world cricket. During the historic 2001 Eden Gardens Test, some of the Australia players were sweating it out in the gym with them former Aussie cricketer and then Indian coach John Wright also participated.

At the same time, an Indian cricketer was on the cycling machine in floaters and there was an attendant serving him tea there. After witnessing this incident, unable to control his frustration, Wright left the gym. The difference in work ethic was too much to bear.

Paul Chapman heard this anecdote from the former India coach himself. But how things have changed in the last 10 years are amazing. According to Chapman, If Wright walks into the India team’s gym session now, he would be in awe.

Chapman is the sports science manager at New South Wales Cricket in Sydney, He says he has seen the fitness culture change for the better. First, as a physiotherapist at the National Cricket Academy for two-and-half years till 2010, and then during his spell with the IPL franchise Mumbai Indians in the last four seasons.

Earlier, when an India team used to tour Down Under, it would start the game 20-25 runs behind based on fielding ability. But not in this series, the sloppiness in the field have been replaced by some electric displays of athleticism by Ravinder Jadeja & Co.

There has been a dramatic change in the fitness of Indian players in the last 10 years: Chapman

Chapman said, “There has been a dramatic change in India in the last 10 years. You got some great athletes --- Virat’s leading from the front, Rohit (Sharma) is an example and Shikhar Dhawan is a great athlete. Umesh Yadav is remarkable in what he is able to do on the field. The whole group is coming together. You can’t play international cricket now and not be fit. A lot of players recognise the benefits of being athletic,

Chapman says that he started noticing the change towards the end of the careers of India’s last generation of greats.

He said, “I spent more time with Rahul Dravid at NCA than with my wife for two years there (2008 onwards). He was more fit in the final two years of his career than when he first started playing. There was a difference in Dravid he was hitting fours, hitting sixes, was running between wickets, fielding at mid-on and diving for balls. I don’t think people had seen him do that before.”

“Maybe in the pre-IPL days, you could say the physical attributes of players from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa were greater and maybe there was better work ethic there. Now, if you come to the Mumbai Indians gym, there’s no way you could say Mitchell McClenaghan or whoever is working any harder or is fitter than any one of the India squad members.”

Chapman added, “Virat’s skin fold ( the measure of body fat) is really low. The lowest we have come across (at NCA) is Wriddhiman Saha’s, it is ridiculously low. Rohit’s gone down with control over diet and good training ethic.”

The use of technology in the fitness department has been instrumental for the Indian team and the fact that everyone plays so much cricket, they have to be fit and athletic. On January 31, the Indian team made history by whitewashing Australia in Australia for the first time in 140 years of cricketing history. The new generations of fit players have made the country proud.

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