Patrolling the backward point and cover fielding positions a decade back, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina were once the swiftest and fittest in the Indian team.
Come 2017, new coach Ravi Shastri, along with captain Virat Kohli and the selectors, have made fitness a major criterion for national selection, leaving veterans a lot of time to ponder about their creaky bones.
At 30, Raina still has age on his side, but the lack of game time over the last one year and a half has made him a sloucher version of himself. He, along with the 35-year-old Yuvraj, failed to make the cut to the ODI team based on their numbers during a Yo-Yo test conducted at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.
According to a report in ABP news, 27-year-old Manish Pandey managed to beat captain Virat Kohli in the Team India tests, getting a reading of 19.2 on the Yo-Yo as opposed to the Delhi batsman, who notched up 19.
36-year-old MS Dhoni was a close third, reaffirming the fact that age has done little to slow down the stumper.
Dhoni had recently posted a picture on Instagram, getting ready to dig into some hard earned lunch after having completed his tests at Bangalore. He sprinted 20 metres in 2.91 seconds, and a ‘run a three’ (the time taken to run a triple with a bat in hand) in 8.90 seconds.
Part of a series of tests that contemporary cricketers take to assess their levels of fitness during team selection, the ‘Yo-Yo’ test gauges the player’s ability to run for extended periods of time to check their endurance.
An upgrade to the previous ‘beep’ test, which is just about running to and from across a set distance, the advanced ‘Yo-Yo’ test makes the players pause for a short while in the middle, between each set of run, to mimic the start-stop nature of cricket.
The software-based process starts with cones being placed 20 metres apart to mark llines. The player starts running when the count starts, travelling between the two markings, turning around when the recorded beeps make a sound.
The pace in the drill increases progressively: if the player is unable to reach the line on time, he has to turn and run to the other line to overcome the delay within the next two beeps, failing which, the test ends.
Recently, the English management conducted the Yo-Yo tests on its team, part of a fitness assessment they do once every year,
“It’s not the best, it’s not nice but it’s 10-20 minutes of hard work and then you can relax”, said Joe Root, on the test, that shares its name with a toy that was invented in 500 BC.
The 32-year-old Alastair Cook aced the yo-yo test, covering 3,120 metres, closely followed by Jonny Bairstow, who notched exactly 3,000. Joe Root was third at 2,760 m.
‘Cook hasn’t lost, like, ever: he is very tough mentally as you have seen on the cricket field. He is a very stubborn individual and doesn’t like losing”, Phil Scott, England Cricket’s Strength and Conditioning Coach pointed out.
The door seems to be shutting fast on India’s regular fixtures of the 2000s: can Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina match the fast-evolving fitness standards, or the lack of top-level endurance from them spell an end to their international career?