Yo-yo Test for Indian cricketers before the Afghanistan Test
What's the story
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has asked all the players picked in the Test squad to face Afghanistan to undergo mandatory yo-yo tests. The yo-yo test results will form part of the fitness report card that the support staff will be submitting to the board prior to the start of the season. The players have been asked to report at Bengaluru on June 8th for the procedure.
It’s not just the Test players of the Afghanistan series who’ll be subjected to the fitness test. The players who have been picked in the India A squads for the tri-series in England against England Lions (England A) and West Indies A, too will have to undergo yo-yo tests in Bengaluru on June 3rd and 4th.
“The players will have to undergo a mandatory yo-yo test. Though the team has been already been picked for the lone Test against Afghanistan, it’s a procedure which each player has to follow. The players, who will be travelling to England too will have to undergo a yo-yo test in the coming weeks,” sources in the BCCI confirmed.
In case you didn't know...
BCCI brought in the new protocol for selection to the Indian team late last year, making it mandatory for every player to have a basic level of aerobic endurance prescribed by the Indian team management.
Rahul Johri, CEO of BCCI, had insisted then that even if a cricketer happens to be injury-free and in form, failure to meet the mandatory fitness parameters would result in him making way for a fitter player. It was widely regarded as the way by which the board could decide upon who to play a game without hassle.
All the Indian cricketers had hence been asked to achieve a basic score—a minimum standard set for an elite international sportsperson—in order to be eligible for selection, and that was the advent of yo-yo tests in Indian cricketing circles.
Prior to this, the yo-yo test was experimented upon by Anil Kumble during his tenure as coach, but he took it away with him when he resigned from the position.
The yo-yo test requires players to pace themselves methodically — starting with a modest jog to the eventual hard sprint — as they shift back and forth between two rows of cones kept 20 metres apart. Each run needs to be timed with the three beeps that are played in the background, which are the signals for start, turn-around-cone and finish.
With the timing between the beeps constantly decreasing, each subsequent 40m to-and-fro circuit requires more speed. Getting beaten twice by the beep means the end of the test. The final score is determined by the laps completed and the speed gathered.
Several cricket-playing nations have made the yo-yo tests a part of their fitness testing, but it is a compulsory feature only in India. New Zealand and West Indies, for instance, boast of players who have better yo-yo fitness levels, but it is not compulsory for either team's players to pass the cut-off score to get selected into the squad.
The yo-yo tests were in news for the first time a few months ago when Suresh Raina failed to clear it and got himself out of the selection criteria, despite being widely regarded as very well suited to play the games against New Zealand. Yuvraj Singh later joined Raina on the dubious achievement, as he failed to clear it earlier this year.
What remains to be seen is the way in which the BCCI will respond to the test, provided any player fails to clear it. As the squad to play Afghanistan has already been selected, there might not be any change in the squad, but the failing players may not be allowed to feature in the game. The England tour follows, and changes could be incorporated into the squad headed for England.
As the Indian players assemble in Bengaluru following a gruelling one-and-half-month schedule around India with their respective IPL teams, their eventual results on the yo-yo test definitely become a thing of attention.
While debates are still going on about the prevalence of the yo-yo test, it does give the Control Boards a way to look at their squads uniquely, and by far this is probably the closest way to tell if a player can remain fit while he is in form as well. One of the problems that yo-yo tests face is the absence of any standardisation in the procedure. Once something is done in that context, the test could promise better results.
As of now, we can just await the test results on June 8th.
What is your opinion on the matter? Are yo-yo tests a necessary procedure to determine the selection of players into the squad? Share your thought in the comments below.