Yo-Yo test unfair to cricketers, must go

Time was when cricket was entirely about skills. About what you could do with bat and ball. Fielding was a bonus, not a necessity. And fitness was just cricket-fitness, not physical fitness. If you could bat eight hours, or charge in and bowl 25 overs a day with the same intensity in the evening as in the morning, that was all that was needed. Not anymore, not certainly in Indian cricket. Increasingly, in the Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri era, players are required to be athletes first and cricketers next. You could be selected because you have scored runs by the bucketful or taken wickets by the bushel, but if you can’t touch 16.1 on the contentious Yo-Yo test, the chop is swift and decisive. As Mohammed Shami, Ambati Rayudu and Sanju Samson have all found out in the last couple of weeks.

Since when did physical fitness become the primary criterion for selection to a cricket team? Admittedly, in this era of multi-form cricket with the Twenty20 version threatening to take centre stage, there can be no compromise on fitness. But fitness must only complement cricketing ability, not supplant it. The Yo-Yo test is designed to gauge explosive pace and agility and can at best be a yardstick in the 20-over game. It is not a determinant of stamina and staying power, and therefore can provide little input on whether someone can last a five-day match or even an ODI. There is a reason why the Australians, acknowledged as the pioneers when it comes to these things, have jettisoned the Yo-Yo test. Indian cricket’s new-found love for this double-edged tool is hard to digest but reasonably easy to understand, given the all-powerful current skipper’s obsession with fitness.

There is also little reasoning on how the number 16.1 was arrived at, and even less clarity on what has been communicated to the players and what hasn’t. How can someone who scored upwards of 600 runs in IPL 2018 and worked his way back into the national team after two years reconcile himself to being shoved aside at the altar of the Yo-Yo test? Rayudu was cricket-fit enough to make all those runs in extreme heat during April and May –- and to field for 20 overs, too — but because he failed to touch 16.1 in June, his comeback has been stalled. That’s a remarkably ineffable state of affairs, and is certain to instil hesitancy, if not dread, in the best of players. That there is no competent authority in the fragmented and defanged Board of Control for Cricket in India to question this development is unfortunate. The Yo-Yo test must go immediately. Otherwise, the Indian cricket team in its current shape will cease to exist pretty soon.

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Yo-Yo test unfair to cricketers, must go

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