The Yo-Yo Test: The Fitness Metric That Can Make or Break a Cricketer’s Career
In the high-stakes world of international cricket, fitness plays a pivotal role. It’s no longer just about skill and talent; fitness is a key criterion for team selection. As the game evolves, the need for speed, agility, and endurance becomes even more pressing. Enter the Yo-Yo test—a standardized fitness test designed to measure an athlete’s aerobic endurance. Although this gruelling test has long been a staple in various sports like soccer and rugby, it has found particular prominence in cricket in recent years. Fail this test, and you might find yourself ousted from the team, regardless of your on-field prowess. It’s that critical. For some players, it serves as a wake-up call, propelling them to focus on their fitness and make a triumphant return to the squad. In contrast, others find it to be a roadblock they can’t quite overcome. Let’s explore the intriguing stories of five Indian cricketers who faced this testing situation and navigated their careers around it.
Yuvraj Singh: The Seasoned Warrior
Yuvraj Singh found himself in hot water before the 2017 Sri Lanka series. Failing the Yo-Yo test led to his exclusion from the national team. Initially, the reasons for his absence were not clear. However, it later emerged that it was the failed Yo-Yo test that cost him his place. Yuvraj, never one to back down, soon cleared the test. Remarkably, he revealed he was offered a farewell game if he failed again. Instead, he chose to prove his mettle and successfully passed. He retired in 2019, leaving behind a legacy of resilience.
Sanju Samson: The Rising Star
Sanju Samson’s career hit a roadblock in 2018. Slated to go to England with India A, he failed the Yo-Yo test and was replaced by Ishan Kishan. Nonetheless, a month later, Samson cleared the test and made his way back into the India A squad. He returned to Team India for the Bangladesh home series a year later. Since then, his journey has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows.
Ambati Rayudu: The Unfortunate One
Ambati Rayudu’s brilliant 2018 IPL performance earned him a ticket to England for the ODI series. Yet, failing the Yo-Yo test led to his immediate ousting, with Suresh Raina stepping in. Rayudu did clear the test eventually and made a comeback in the 2018 Asia Cup. Despite this, he faced an unexpected snub from the 2019 World Cup squad.
Washington Sundar: The Young Talent
Washington Sundar was on the brink of earning his maiden India call-up for a home T20I series against Australia in 2017. Then, the Yo-Yo test happened. Sundar failed but made up for it by clearing the test later the same season. He played in the Sri Lanka series and even debuted in Tests three years later. Today, he’s a vital part of the Indian squad across formats.
Mohammed Shami: The Resilient Pacer
Mohammed Shami faced his Yo-Yo test debacle before the 2018 one-off Test against Afghanistan. Replaced by Navdeep Saini, Shami found himself in a tricky situation. However, he cleared the test a month later and earned his way back into the team for the England series. Not only has Shami retained his spot, but he’s also set to spearhead India’s pace attack alongside Jasprit Bumrah in the 2023 ODI World Cup.
The Yo-Yo test serves as both a hurdle and a motivation for players. It forces them to confront their fitness levels, often providing the catalyst for a more disciplined, healthier lifestyle. Whether a setback or a stepping stone, the Yo-Yo test undeniably shapes the careers of cricketers in modern-day cricket.