After shortlisting 20 players who will be in the scheme of things for the 50th World Cup to be held later this year, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to introduce methods and protocols for personalized training for each player.
During a review meeting of the team’s T20 World Cup 2022 debacle in Mumbai attended by BCCI President Roger Binny, Secretary Jay Shah, Captain Rohit Sharma, Coach- chief Rahul Dravid and chief cricket officer of the NCA VVS Laxman, the board also re-introduced the results of the Yo-Yo test and Dexa analysis as selection criteria. There will be a personalized roadmap for each player to follow at all times, including during their time with the IPL franchise in the summer leading up to the World Cup.
The Yo-Yo test is not new for the Indian team as it was first introduced ahead of the 2019 World Cup during the Virat Kohli– The Ravi Shastri era.
Initially, it was not well received by gamers like the likes of Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Prithvi ShawVarun Chakravarthy, Sanju Samson and mohamed chami had all failed to clear the Yo-Yo test at different times.
But once players started to see the difference it made on the court, especially in agility and movement, they increased their desired Yo-Yo test score from 16.1 to 17. However, in the post-pandemic world, with Covid protocols in place, the team opted for a 2km run test (less than 7.30 minutes) which was used as the fitness metric.
Now that several of the key players have injured themselves despite getting enough rest, the board has returned to Yo-Yo testing. In the past, players had to clear the Yo-Yo test score of 17. “You’re talking business if it’s 18 for hitters and 19 for fast bowlers,” Ramji Srinivasan, the former strength and conditioning coach of the Indian team that won the World Cup in 2011 and the Champions Trophy in 2013 said. “Things have changed and we have to follow the trend. There are parameters, so just relying on Yo-Yo won’t be enough. A competency-based curriculum should also be included,” Ramji said.
According to Ramji, Dexa scanning tests are something he recommended to BCCI and NCA in 2011 due to the overall increase in the number of games played in a year. With Dexa tests, trainers will be able to measure body fat percentage, lean muscle mass, water content and bone density.
“It helps you understand where the fat is and if the training methods are working. It’s all tied to a cycle. It’s part of the testing protocols that should have become mandatory a long time ago. Some teams have been doing this for 10 years. It’s a foolproof method. The skin fold can be manipulated and each time different results can appear. But with Dexa, it will be uniform and the data will also be used for the future, “said Ramji.
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It is understood that the BCCI have opted for a more scientific method following some players hiding problems and rushing after injuries. This will not only put the responsibility on the players, but also bring the responsibility on the coaches. “For example, the fat content must be less than 10%. If it’s 10-12, you’re on the edge of form. Football players will be between 5 and 8%. But cricketers can stretch it up to 10. Less fat means more muscle mass and it can give you more strength, power, speed, agility and less strain on your joints, less stress on the muscles. This way you can avoid back and knee injuries,” added Ramji.
Incidentally, a back injury ruled out Jasprit Bumrah from the T20 World Cup, while Ravindra Jadeja missed due to a knee injury. With a more personalized plan in place, each player will now have their own unique routine, diet plan and training method to follow based on what the Dexa analysis results show.
“Each player having their own program is the way to go. This was also the case earlier,” Ramji said. “What suits one player may not suit another and it has to be different and personalized and that’s a way to prevent injuries.”
Be it in the T20 World Cup 2021 or the recent edition in November 2022, India took the field without their key players and it had a telling effect. Especially in Australia, India were without Bumrah and Jadeja – two players who would have entered the playing XI straight away – as they rushed through last-minute changes. This meant that India returned to Shami, who was not even part of their T20 World Cup plans until September for the tournament to be played in October-November.
And then, belatedly, there were cases of players frequently breaking down due to fitness-related injuries. Deepak Chahar and Washington Sundar are an example where the duo missed a lot of games last year due to various injuries at different times. Having failed to win an ICC title since winning the Champions Trophy in 2013, BCCI have turned their sights to the 50+ World Cup to be held in India.
For a team that has a huge talent pool and has IPL glamour, a failure to win the World Cup on home soil will not be well received. In this context, India are aware that to put together a winning combination they need to have a fully fit team and therefore seem to have pressed the action button by introducing the Yo-Yo test and the tests of Dexa scanning.