Over the last couple of years, the fitness of the Indian team has been marveled at and praised universally. The strict regimen regarding fitness has been symbolized by the Yo-Yo Test and the strict necessity to pass it in order to get into the Indian team. It can be said with some certainty that this era is the greatest for the Indian team as far as fitness and fielding is concerned.
But just ask yourself this question – Is Indian team really as fit as we think it is? Fitness is great but it's biggest manifestation in cricket matches is the fielding of the team. Having washboard abs and big biceps doesn't mean a thing as long as they don't produce some results in the execution of cricket skills.
How good are Indian in the field?
Now, the Indian team may be very fit but has their fielding – the one area most affected by fitness – become of the same level as that of other top teams in the world? The answer, if one goes by their latest Test match, is no.
While Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, and Ravindra Jadeja are all top fielders, the overall fielding of the Test team doesn't seem to be as good as expected. There are some players in the side who are clearly not very agile. Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami are among them.
Now, some may point to Ashwin's problems with his health and also the fact that Ishant and Shami are fast bowlers so can't be expected to be among the better fielders. However, increasingly in world cricket, pacers are also proving to be as good as anyone else when it comes to fielding. Trent Boult is the greatest example of this.
Compared to bowlers like Boult and Starc, Indian pacers don't look half as good in the field. They also are not very quick across the turf. Overall, the sharpness the fielders of teams like Australia and New Zealand show is missing from the Indian team. In the latest Test match, on several occasions, the Kiwis were able to pinch an extra run or get the ball past in-field easily.
Yo-Yo Tests worth it?
Which brings us to this question – Are things like the Yo-Yo test really working? Ravi Shastri, in his usual bombastic style, announced, about the requirement for Indian cricketers to pass this test, "You pass, you go, you fail, you sail." If the Yo-Yo tests are so important for the Indian cricketers, why is their fielding still not as good as other teams in the world?
Perhaps, the Indian team management needs to relook at its fitness regimen. Just being fit in a certain way may not be enough. There may be specific requirements for cricketers and whether they have that or not is perhaps, not best judged by this test. In any case, a re-assessment isn't out of order. Because at the moment, the team does look a little slack in the field.