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Saturday, February 13, 2021

Chepauk test - Rohit ton .. YoYo and more !!

2nd test off to a start at Chepauk today …. .. back to back tests at the same venue .. ..  at the time of posting this (1.25 noon) – Rohit Sharma has scored a century on a pitch which looks not easy to bat on – India 152/3 !!  the man who looks supremely fit – Virat Kohli out for a duck and it was baffling – why he stayed so long after being bowled !

I  remember this guy making  debut against England in Dec 1984 – the bowling lineup missing Kapil Dev read, Chetan Sharma, Manoj Prabhakar, Ravi Shastri, Roger Binny and Rajinder Sing Ghai.   Alongside Ghai, Kiran More, R Robinson and Richard Ellison also made their debuts.  On a condition camp before a tour at Chepauk – players came out – some of them (star Batsmen of India) just moved their hands a few times – while a bunch of pacers did running practice.  After 3 rounds – most of them retired, Kapil Dev, the supreme fit player kept running and Rajinder Singh Ghai matched him running !

A few years back – fitness of players became primary perhaps more so than their playing capabilities.  YoYo test !!!  Every Indian cricketer — not just those who play the energy intensive shorter versions, but even Test cricketers — had to possess a basic level of aerobic endurance prescribed by the Indian team management.  BCCI top official went on record stating 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. “The captain, coach and chief selector, along with the other members of the selection committee in consultation with the support staff (trainer and physio), have set the parameters. The fitness parameters set by the team management for athletes to be eligible for selection are non-negotiable,”  

The yo-yo test required players to pace themselves methodically — starting with a modest jog to the eventual gut-busting sprint — as they shuttle 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. These are the signals for start, turn and finish. With the timing between the beeps constantly decreasing, each subsequent 40m 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.  Well among others, Ravi Ashwin easily passed while Yuvi and Raina reportedly failed !!

This morning at Chepauk, India gave a debut to Axar Patel, whose absence through injury last week had a knock-on effect for the rest of the XI. With Patel fit, India  recalled Kuldeep Yadav for the first time in two years, while Mohammed Siraj replaced Jasprit Bumrah, rested after bowling 42 overs in his first Test on home soil. England had named their XII on the eve of the match, with Stuart Broad, Ben Foakes and Moeen Ali all coming in. The final spot came down to Olly Stone's pace versus the experience (and batting) of Chris Woakes, with Stone getting the nod.  

Olly Stone has only played one first-class match since his Test debut in 2019, but his opening spell on his return to England whites could barely have gone better. Wicket from his third ball, Pujara hurried and hit, pace up to 150kph/92mph, figures of 4-2-8-1. He provided both wicket-taking threat and economy, even as Rohit was latching on to anything overpitched by Broad at the other end.  

Today with Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli bagging duck and Pujawara too failing – a  sparking innings from Rohit Sharma has held India together  .. .. … wonder this field placing of short mid-on and short mid-off as Stuart Broad is bowling to Rohit Sharma. ..  .. . the Q foremost is – is the pitch stable or would be crumble !!

It is no more 16:1. The yo-yo test level for the Indian men's cricketers has been raised to 17:1. In addition, the BCCI has also added a new fitness parameter: run a two-kilometre time trial, which is now a global fitness standard employed by international cricket teams. It is understood that players have the choice to pick either the yo-yo test or the time trial, but the BCCI has made it mandatory to clear one of the two fitness tests. These two elements are part of the BCCI's drive to raise the fitness standards of Indian players and bring them closer to the global standards. It is understood the BCCI finalised the new fitness parameters in tandem with the National Cricket Academy, which is headed by former India captain Rahul Dravid, and the national selectors recently.

While the yo-yo test involves shuttling over a 20-metre distance at increasing speeds, the two-kilometre time trial has to be accomplished in 8 minutes and 15 seconds for fast bowlers, and 8 minutes and 30 seconds for the rest.

To a simple mind – it does not sound great sense.  On that day   RS Ghai ran rounds after round at Chepauk, Vengsarkar just shaked his hip, took a couple of catches and did nothing more – yet he was a stylish cricketer who made runs when mattered.  My perception is players like Vengsarkar, Gundappa Vishwanath, Erapalli Prasanna, Bishan Bedi, Anshuman Gaekwad, VVS Laxman .. ..  and many more like Ashok Malhotra may not perhaps pass these fitness conditions – yet it would be the game, which would be the loser, if we are to keep these players on fitness criteria.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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