With eye on World Cups, Indian players start working on improving fitness levels at NCA


At least 25 players are in Bengaluru to establish their base fitness level before the start of the IPL

In a bid to improve and maintain optimum fitness levels for both World Cups over the next 20 months, the Indian team’s management – in coordination with selectors and the National Cricket Academy – has asked a group of pre-selected players to attend a fitness camp in Bangalore.

ESPNcricinfo has learned that at least 25 players are currently at the NCA, currently halfway through camp which started on March 5 and will end on March 14, after which they will head to their respective IPL teams. All players will undergo a fitness test before leaving camp, but unlike last year when it was mandatory to clear benchmarks, this time it’s about recording a benchmark score for each player.

Among those who have already started with the camp are Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shardul Thakur, Harshal Patel, Venkatesh Iyer, Sanju Samson, Deepak Hooda, Varun Chakravarthy, Washington Sundar, Prithvi Shaw and Umran Malik. Also joining the camp are a set of players rehabilitating for separate injuries: KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan. Several players, who participated in the championship phase of the Ranji Trophy, which recently recovered, also joined the camp this week.

It is learned that the camp was finalized recently by the management of the Indian team led by the head coach Rahul Dravid and had the support of the selection committee as well as the NCA, which is led by the former Indian striker VVS Laxman. Both Dravid and Laxman want the NCA to operate more like a high-performance center and this camp was advancing the initiative launched last year when a group of white-ball-only players – contracted or not – underwent testing. of fitness that were mandatory to be cleared. Last year, players had to pass the yo-yo test or run a 2 kilometer time trial.

This year, however, the basis of the camp is to record each player’s fitness metrics, which can then be stored in a central database and accessed at any time by India’s coaching staff, including the physio, strength and conditioning coaches and coaches. According to the BCCI, the creation of such a standardized structure will prove vital as India prepares for the T20 World Cup (scheduled in Australia in October-November this year) as well as the ODI World Cup, to be held in India at the end of 2023.

Part of this process would be to establish a baseline fitness level for each individual, which will then be monitored and updated frequently. The baseline is established by running a player through various fitness exercises including a standing long jump, 2 kilometer time trial, yo-yo test, Dexa body scan (to measure percentage of fat and lean muscle mass) as well as various other tests.

Although some markers were put in place – such as the 17:1 level for yo-yo testing and the 2 kilometer time trial race in 8 minutes 30 seconds – this time players were encouraged to push if they wish without any pressure. The benchmark figure will be recorded once the player passes the test before leaving the camp. Subsequently, the player’s fitness metrics would be measured against this baseline figure and how well they are able to sustain themselves under the workload.

Nagraj Gollapudi is editor-in-chief of ESPNcricinfo


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