February 22, 2012

India must make fitness non-negotiable

For too long they have placed a premium on skills alone, but a lack of fitness can undermine the best skills
  shares 104

The tours to England and Australia have shaken India out of their comfort zone, forcing them to look into areas of their cricket that were never an issue for them. Fitness, for example.

India won the World Cup a year ago despite poor fitness standards, with only three of their 11 fielders actually meeting international fielding standards. This probably helped reinforce their thinking that if you have skills, you can be champions, no matter your fitness. But the visits to England and Australia have opened their eyes to the fact that low fitness can also embarrass you badly as an international team on the world stage.

The one important learning that India should take from their experiences in England and Australia is that they need to have a fitness policy with regard to the selection of their players. No matter how good your skills are, if you are overweight, unathletic, aged, and hence a liability in the field, you will just not make the cut as an India player.

And when I say fitness I don't mean the kind of fitness that India had issues with on that tour of England, when some players turned up to play international cricket only half-fit. I mean the fitness of an India player when he actually reports to the team management as 100% fit.

Apart from the obvious advantages that fitness brings in the field, which Dhoni very accurately and rightly pointed out after the Brisbane one-dayer against Australia, a strong fitness policy will give Indian selectors the ammunition to take clinical cricketing decisions. As we know, it's not quite as easy to drop an Indian star as Australia did Ricky Ponting from the one-dayers, on pure performance. An Australian selector knows he has the support of the team's fans when he takes decisions like this. For in Australia, performance, not the player, is king.

It's important that a fitness-led approach has the strong backing of the BCCI, for that will help an Indian selector tell angry fans that their hero was dropped because he did not meet the new fitness standards of Indian cricket. Indian selectors over the years have had to make many compromises with their selections, fearing backlashes from the media and fans, which alone, I feel, have hurt Indian cricket like nothing else.

We were all stunned last month when an ageing, unfit and out-of-form VVS Laxman was preferred over a young player for the Adelaide Test. Why did that happen? Only because of the stature of the player who had to be dropped. This, regrettably, is the reality of the Indian cricket culture.

To take a hypothetical example: if India had a strong fitness policy, for all his skills and runs Laxman would have started feeling the pressure as an India player three years ago. Why? On fitness grounds. If you remember, even when he was playing those wonderful, heroic innings for India, his back would routinely start giving up on him, and his knees were not helping his movements in the field either.

We were all stunned last month when an ageing, unfit and out-of-form VVS Laxman was preferred over a young player for the Adelaide Test. Why did that happen? Only because of the stature of the player who had to be dropped

If India had a long-established fitness policy, perhaps Laxman would have been forced to work harder on his fitness three years ago, and he may have turned a new leaf, appearing more sprightly on the field and in the batting crease than he did in England and Australia. Or he would have been dropped on grounds of fitness and a new, fitter No. 5 batsman would have taken his place. But as we saw in Adelaide, India did not have a fit VVS Laxman or a younger, fitter No. 5 batsman.

I have no doubt that Laxman would have handled England and Australia better if he was fitter - especially if he was lighter on his feet. To take a simple view of this, imagine a player being told by his coach to bat carrying a backpack weighing 10kg. The batsman would obviously reject the suggestion as ridiculous, because the excess weight will slow down his movements considerably, making him a sitting duck against top-quality attacks. Excess weight also puts more of a burden on an ageing spine, which then tends to stiffen up more often than it used to. This results in a batsman being late on his shots, especially the ones that need him to bend forward. I have always found that ageing batsmen struggle more against balls that are pitched up rather than ones that are short of a length.

If India embraces a fitness policy today, it would start to make the likes of Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan squirm right away. An R Ashwin, for all his skills and promise, would be working desperately hard on his fitness today rather than on his carrom ball.

Among all countries Australia, I believe, have the best approach to cricket and success in the sport. Fitness for them is like breathing - natural and deep-rooted in their cricketing culture, where an unfit cricketer, for all his skills, will never make the grade. Australia were uncharacteristically patient with the ageing Michael Hussey and Ponting because it was only their batting form that was in question, not their fitness.

Skills do matter in the game. Pakistan won a World Cup with low fielding and fitness standards, and in Australia at that. The same can be said about Sri Lanka, who won in 1996, when they were led by a man who often walked his runs. But the teams that rose to the top and stayed there for a decade and more were teams that had fitness, alongside skills, as a non-negotiable in their cricket.

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on February 24, 2012, 19:02 GMT

    Coming from someone who did not field well himself!!! What a tall claim.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on February 24, 2012, 15:04 GMT

    ......and Gavaskar would have never been allowed to be a cricketer.

  • mTw_cheetah on February 24, 2012, 11:58 GMT

    Love you Mr. Sanjay for this article . A great eye opener it is ! So much to say that a Sehwag , a Gavaskar , an Inzi , a Gaunguly , an Ambrose, a Walsh , a Laxman , a Ranatunga , an Aravinda , an Akhtar , a Cullinan , and many more "MERE LEGENDS", would have not made into any arena concerned with cricket and the ecstasy of their elegance might not have ever rubbed through our imagination even .. But that's okay, since they would have been replaced by a brighter Kaif, Raina , Rohit Sharma, Parthiv ,Munaf , Jadeja , or any other ,u know," FITTER " character , right on Sir !

    Loved the way you wrote about the legends.. A 281 against the champion team is like a cake-walk. You are down in pain and save a match,not just once, but that would have been done by a Raina too, on a bouncy track , as he could have sprinted for those runs much faster right ?

    And how dare a constant performer not perform in the last one year! Kick his butt out of the arena and tell him, I have a Rohit here man!

  • on February 24, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    Most people here seem to have little understanding of the game and what Manjreker has mentioned. I agree with him 100% in the sense that players must be identified as fit individuals in first place.

    Wake up guys.. Why do you think teams like SA and Aus have always performed better than us?? They field like Cheetah's and save those vital runs, not to mention the crucial run outs...

    Yes, skills are important else a team like Newzealand that also boosts of fit players and high quality fielders would have dominated us.

    The point therefore is to have a blend of the two.. lets say if fitness skill ratio is 2:8 right now.. it needs to be atleast at 4:6

    Cheers...!

  • msa20 on February 24, 2012, 3:52 GMT

    95% of indians are poor athletes because of the food culture and lifestyle in India. Most Indians have grown up eating rice which is a really bad habit for a an athlete. Rice is just carbohydrates and nothing else. You may get strong eating but you are going to be sluggish and slow....That is the main reason most athletes in India are also not able to compete in the world stage...

  • on February 24, 2012, 2:28 GMT

    I agree to this point upto a certain level, but the same Manjrekar who has held the mic and pen for such a long time failed to observe this ftiness saga almost for a decade, and nevertheless, indian team's fitness has never been at the peak. Just because, there has been a continuous downfall overseas, everyone has an unique eye of looking at things, and talking about things in a happenign way. Why did not the same Manjrekar talk about this all these years, when he has pointed out Laxman's ftness level three years ago from now?

  • on February 24, 2012, 2:16 GMT

    would like to ask one question to many who said fitness save 20 runs...was it not jadeja who misfielded last time india played..was it not rohit sharma who dropped two catches the last time he played...

  • on February 23, 2012, 22:17 GMT

    Sanjay is correct with this article, most of the indian players are very slow and poor in the field. The only talent i see heading into the future for india are the youngsters, but not all of them have shown signs of power, strength and agility. So far its Jadeja, Kohli and Raina who have caught my eye. We see very sharp fielding skills from them. I have yet to see other youngsters prove themselves.

    It is no secret that the indian fielders cannot sprint very quick in comparison to english and australian players, watch carefully how quickly out fielders latch onto a ball and most of the time chase it down. This is not the case with indian fielders, they struggle to save boundaries. Observe next time india play, you will see i am right. The same is of pakistan. Sprinting generally isnt quick from subcontinent teams.

  • nikhilshahb on February 23, 2012, 22:01 GMT

    Fitness is a well defined scientifically measured entity. It has 3 components, 1 strength, 2 stamina and 3 flexibility. It is too late for a player in the Indian cricket to address the fitness issue, it starts from the grass roots in high school and college. In the recent Asian and commonwealth games India won a combined 164 medals and by 2022 games the count is going to about 300 plus. Ten percent of those as a rule of thumb can be won in the Olympics. In order to prepare for the Olympics and other sports like Cricket, there has to be a national body addressing the needs of fitness at the grassroots. Our physical education programs in schools and colleges are in complete shambles and need to improve on fitness of younger generation. A national wide fitnees awareness is also a need and they can join the labor force, the armed forces or Sports.

  • Angry_Bowler on February 23, 2012, 20:09 GMT

    Only Dhoni and few young players are fit, the rest are just paw baji guys, fit for nothing and we can see them on the field how they run between the wickets.

  • on February 24, 2012, 19:02 GMT

    Coming from someone who did not field well himself!!! What a tall claim.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on February 24, 2012, 15:04 GMT

    ......and Gavaskar would have never been allowed to be a cricketer.

  • mTw_cheetah on February 24, 2012, 11:58 GMT

    Love you Mr. Sanjay for this article . A great eye opener it is ! So much to say that a Sehwag , a Gavaskar , an Inzi , a Gaunguly , an Ambrose, a Walsh , a Laxman , a Ranatunga , an Aravinda , an Akhtar , a Cullinan , and many more "MERE LEGENDS", would have not made into any arena concerned with cricket and the ecstasy of their elegance might not have ever rubbed through our imagination even .. But that's okay, since they would have been replaced by a brighter Kaif, Raina , Rohit Sharma, Parthiv ,Munaf , Jadeja , or any other ,u know," FITTER " character , right on Sir !

    Loved the way you wrote about the legends.. A 281 against the champion team is like a cake-walk. You are down in pain and save a match,not just once, but that would have been done by a Raina too, on a bouncy track , as he could have sprinted for those runs much faster right ?

    And how dare a constant performer not perform in the last one year! Kick his butt out of the arena and tell him, I have a Rohit here man!

  • on February 24, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    Most people here seem to have little understanding of the game and what Manjreker has mentioned. I agree with him 100% in the sense that players must be identified as fit individuals in first place.

    Wake up guys.. Why do you think teams like SA and Aus have always performed better than us?? They field like Cheetah's and save those vital runs, not to mention the crucial run outs...

    Yes, skills are important else a team like Newzealand that also boosts of fit players and high quality fielders would have dominated us.

    The point therefore is to have a blend of the two.. lets say if fitness skill ratio is 2:8 right now.. it needs to be atleast at 4:6

    Cheers...!

  • msa20 on February 24, 2012, 3:52 GMT

    95% of indians are poor athletes because of the food culture and lifestyle in India. Most Indians have grown up eating rice which is a really bad habit for a an athlete. Rice is just carbohydrates and nothing else. You may get strong eating but you are going to be sluggish and slow....That is the main reason most athletes in India are also not able to compete in the world stage...

  • on February 24, 2012, 2:28 GMT

    I agree to this point upto a certain level, but the same Manjrekar who has held the mic and pen for such a long time failed to observe this ftiness saga almost for a decade, and nevertheless, indian team's fitness has never been at the peak. Just because, there has been a continuous downfall overseas, everyone has an unique eye of looking at things, and talking about things in a happenign way. Why did not the same Manjrekar talk about this all these years, when he has pointed out Laxman's ftness level three years ago from now?

  • on February 24, 2012, 2:16 GMT

    would like to ask one question to many who said fitness save 20 runs...was it not jadeja who misfielded last time india played..was it not rohit sharma who dropped two catches the last time he played...

  • on February 23, 2012, 22:17 GMT

    Sanjay is correct with this article, most of the indian players are very slow and poor in the field. The only talent i see heading into the future for india are the youngsters, but not all of them have shown signs of power, strength and agility. So far its Jadeja, Kohli and Raina who have caught my eye. We see very sharp fielding skills from them. I have yet to see other youngsters prove themselves.

    It is no secret that the indian fielders cannot sprint very quick in comparison to english and australian players, watch carefully how quickly out fielders latch onto a ball and most of the time chase it down. This is not the case with indian fielders, they struggle to save boundaries. Observe next time india play, you will see i am right. The same is of pakistan. Sprinting generally isnt quick from subcontinent teams.

  • nikhilshahb on February 23, 2012, 22:01 GMT

    Fitness is a well defined scientifically measured entity. It has 3 components, 1 strength, 2 stamina and 3 flexibility. It is too late for a player in the Indian cricket to address the fitness issue, it starts from the grass roots in high school and college. In the recent Asian and commonwealth games India won a combined 164 medals and by 2022 games the count is going to about 300 plus. Ten percent of those as a rule of thumb can be won in the Olympics. In order to prepare for the Olympics and other sports like Cricket, there has to be a national body addressing the needs of fitness at the grassroots. Our physical education programs in schools and colleges are in complete shambles and need to improve on fitness of younger generation. A national wide fitnees awareness is also a need and they can join the labor force, the armed forces or Sports.

  • Angry_Bowler on February 23, 2012, 20:09 GMT

    Only Dhoni and few young players are fit, the rest are just paw baji guys, fit for nothing and we can see them on the field how they run between the wickets.

  • besk on February 23, 2012, 20:09 GMT

    Oh Come on you have written this article keeping sachin in mind and it is evident in every word, first get the metal fitness to mention names you wanted to then talk about fitness and to simply answer your long article. Anywhere administration do what sells with their customers (spectators) in terms of enjoyment and in turn as money. In Australia winning sells so they do what ever they have to for that and in India records, demi-god players sells. you will see TRP ratings after sachin retires and how many months/years it will take to recoverfrom that. End of the day its not military camp, its a sport in which both spectators and players both need JUST PASSION. Note: you will not have opportunity to write these articles and get 15 min fame in channels if everything goes well with Indian team :).

  • SomeCents on February 23, 2012, 19:56 GMT

    Wonder how many Indian cricketers will be speaking to you after this piece! Lack of fitness means you have no range in the outfield. If it's not hit directly at you then somebody else has to get it. Forget running the 3's or quick 2's. Notice how Dhoni keeps running out everybody? Stupid guy thinks they can run like him! He has to adjust his game to accommodate the seniors! In limited overs game, energy is spirit and spirit is essential. However, the replacement fit player must be of adequate skill level! Not Jadeja!

  • on February 23, 2012, 19:40 GMT

    Sanjay Manjrekar (as I remember of his early days 89-91) was a solid and slow middle order batsmen. After couple years and his first tour of Australia (92), I realized he had some skills but was not street smart, he could not adapt his game when conditions demanded more. Next three years he struggled to keep his test spot, failed on multiple one day comebacks and eventually discarded for good, hence the commentary and writing assignments. In short another Arun Lal -- good domestic credentials and promise but not much of world stage caliber. These days he primarily repeats what Ian/Greg Chappel, and similar Aus/Eng experts have to say (not just malice and propaganda - but more because of different cricketing styles, cultures etc.). The point I want to make is he had little of value to offer then and little to offer now. Yes we need to improve but we lost because of lack of bite in our bowling and lack of runs by batters. Fielding is important but it always will be the third skill.

  • cricsuhail on February 23, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    Dude, I am laughing at this non-sensical article. Enforcing fitness.. how do you judge the fitness of a player...make him run at certain speed. check his weight? -what are you talking about! ...wake up, subah hogayee mamu.

  • on February 23, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    class can never be calculated on the basis of fitness alone..we watches test cricket to enjoy the fabulous iningses played by certain class players..whether it is tendulkar,dravid ,laxman,inzy,kallis,ponting or lara..we just love their class and artistry..we will enjoy the fielding skills in a one day match or t/20..test matches means the test of one's ability ,class and temparament..And a player like vvs laxman is a mix of all those things..we classicists simply adore him and we love to watch him playing those silky shots...we dont actually care about some old players turned commentators speaking about such classicists in such indignified manner..let us watch our idols pla,pls turn ur attention to ipl or onedayers..let the classicists watch test matches quietly..

  • ProdigyA on February 23, 2012, 16:33 GMT

    Very well written article emphasising the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of Indian cricket. I think it is HIGH TIME that we start making this aspect the most important culture as part of cricket. Pls dong bring Sachin into this cause i think for his age he is much better than many youngsters. VVS, Duncan, Srinivasan all are too lazy. Most dissapointing in my view is Ashwin, he makes VVS look fit, unforgiveable.

  • akpy on February 23, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    atleast dada is honest and upfront when talking about cricketers and our team...he said, fitness cant be the sole criteria as he knows he himself would not have played long if that was the only criteria...he is not just banging the team/players bcos he has now retired and working with the media. Sanjay Manjrekar hardly has such class and this is yet another example and he does not realise that there are many of us who followed sanjay's career as well and his fitness/fielding abilities. He is really irritating with his comments on most things

  • on February 23, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    Fitness in Cricket is not the only skill required... The players should be cricket fit and that is enough. Also the thing that is important is Mental Fitness, which comes from the support one get from the dressing room, captain and coach

    The seniors did not performed in the ongoing series in Australia, were the lack of faith or the lack of support from the captain responsible for their non-performance? I'm afraid the answer could be yes.

    The captain should be capable of utilizing the resources in best possible manner irrespective of his/her personal differences.

    Coming back on fitness.. How many worldcups has a fit New Zealand or South Africa won, while the "Unfits" Srilanka, Pakistan and India had won. The test records of Fit Zimwabwe is not better than that of Unfit Srilanka.

    Cricket is more of a skill game and fitness is just a mean to enhance the skill..

    And one more point. Mr. Manjrekar has been the critics of Tendulkar since begining, he got his opportunity ;-)

  • henchart on February 23, 2012, 13:43 GMT

    Well written piece.Manjrekar is articulate and incisive.He was a technically sound batsman who couldnt go very far in terms of runs but is more than making up with objective analysis.People like Gavaskar and Shastri were far better cricketers than Manjrekar but when it comes to analysis and commentary are bland and repetitive .

  • correctcall on February 23, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    How about a fitness test for Mr Srinivasan? His performance in overseeing India to utter humiliation must put his suitability to lead in severe question.

  • on February 23, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    Lets accept the fact that majority of the indians pay little attention to fitness and it is not a part of our daily routine

  • srinathpsg on February 23, 2012, 4:55 GMT

    Why is that manjrekar , you always talk about laxman n dravid ?always say that its time for them to retire? why not Sachin? bcoz you are afraid to tell the same for sachin.if guys like you dont tell,hw will he retire ? He should have retired from the ODI format after the world cup.Please dont be biased while writing.

  • on February 23, 2012, 4:22 GMT

    For those people who're asking if Sanjay's article means batting and bowling skills are negotiable - of course not! What a silly non-issue. Every cricketer from the club level up has the necessary skills, at least enough to suit local conditions. To make it to the highest levels and stay there, they have to maintain and strengthen their skill set, add to it when necessary and develop the ability to adapt quickly to different playing conditions and grounds. Having a high level of fitness helps significantly with each one of these requirements.

  • on February 23, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    Sanjay, you are absolutely right. Fitness should not be compromised because of your good batting or bowling prowess. Those competencies will give way to weaker performances if the players are challenged with long stays on the field, both while batting and bowling. And a leaner team puts more pressure on the opposition anyways. For those of you who are challenging Sanjay's comments grow up.

  • UdayMUK on February 23, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    @guesswhat555...i guess you don't understand the context...a fitter player will almost always save 10-15 runs in 9/10 matches...but the same cannot be said for "proven/more skilled" player as one cannot guarantee that he will score par-plus score in 9/10 matches (unless in top form of his career)....i agree with you that our team collectively failed as a unit and it is all the more reason to get our basics right...one cannot MAKE someone guarantee "n" number of runs or "n" number of wickets in a match, but with a strict fitness code and fielding regime, we can at least stop leaking runs and maybe save 15-20 runs...and it is not that only athletic players should be selected...the criteria should be athletic AND proven/potential player...in that order....is it too much to expect something as basic as fitness...after all, they play at the professional level, right?

  • on February 23, 2012, 3:28 GMT

    I wonder if this topic would really have come up if Sachin, Sehwag and Laxman had scored some runs.

  • Natx on February 23, 2012, 2:47 GMT

    why on this earth manjrekar always complains about VVS and never says a word about sachin? Sad to see the regional bias on these so called experts. However great he is, everyone in India knows sachin's time is up long back. He should be the first one to go and then Dravid, followed by Laxman. Also it's time for India to have a new captain for Twenty20 and ODI's. Dhoni's time is up as well as he doesn't have any tricks up his sleeve. He was only good as his players and everyone is badly exposed in Aus and Eng. All these guys will play in subcontinent and score triple hundreds and renew their license to play up to the age of 50. God bless.

  • on February 23, 2012, 1:30 GMT

    SKILLS ARE NECESSARY, BUT PERFORMANCE IS KING. we dominated hockey with our skills for a while, then physically fit Aussies, Germans & Dutch started to thrash us regularly. I still remember scorelines of 6-1, or 7-3. these & other top sporting countries NEVER compromise on their fitness standards. when it is time to prepare for any tournament, even a small local one, everyone including past Olympic gold medallists have to prove they're fit enough - or they're left out while talented & fit unproven youngsters are drafted in. it is simply ridiculous to play a sport as strenuous as cricket at the highest level without elite fitness standards. as Sanjay pointed out, your ability to APPLY your skill gets focused and sharp when your fitness levels are high - or else it becomes sporadic and inconsistent, much like Team India's performances. If Sehwag had to be fit at the elite sports level, I have no doubt his balance, eye-hand coordination - and his batting - would improve significantly.

  • baba6660 on February 23, 2012, 1:03 GMT

    Mr. Manjrekar - Please mind your language when you talk about senior cricketers and more proficient players like V V S Laxman. Why do we start commenting about his fitness and age only when Laxman fails in couple of series. What happened to all this when even with a stiff back battling against severe pain Laxman won us those crucial test matches against Australia in Mohali and against SriLanka in Sri Lanka. How can one you have the audacity to state that Laxman doesn't work on his fitness? One needs to be careful and moderate his comments and avoid making baseless insinuations. Laxman might have cut short Manjrekars cricketing career but it doesn't mean he keeps cribbing about it throughout his life.

  • Al.Muthu on February 23, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    Perhaps not a directly pertinent issue, but I would love to hear some thoughts on this...

    The unenviable task of phasing out the seniors isn't being helped by the youngsters failing to capitalize on their opportunities. Incidentally their poor performance could well be a direct effect of the extreme awareness of the shoes they have suddenly been forced to fill. What's worse is that they're being asked to fill them immediately. Personally I've never seen Raina defend as many balls as he did in the match against Sri Lanka a couple of days ago. It was as if he wanted to play like someone other than himself.

    Is this a healthy environment to nurture new talent?

  • on February 22, 2012, 23:31 GMT

    Seniors like tendlkar and sehwag need to leave india odi team.

  • on February 22, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    How good were you in the field? How many times you have involved in run outs?.How you struggled against the Australian bowlers on fast, bouncy pitches.I know..You better not talk abt fielding standards or fitness.He is not bad as what you thought.So Please ...

  • BnH1985Fan on February 22, 2012, 22:22 GMT

    @ crazycricketfan4life -- I see no difference between Sehwag and Inzy (to be kind), and to be fair, Sehwag is slightly better. In fewer tests, he has about the same number of centuries, higher average, triple centuries and 40 wickets in tests. Sehwag also has more centuries in fewer ODI. Please get your facts straight before commenting.

  • on February 22, 2012, 22:11 GMT

    Very well written articles Why not we have a fitness point system in place?Before every every series or say after every 3 months,every player has to go through it,and then make the results public,atleast hear on cricinfo Perfect for a player like Sehwag, who takes one good catch and leak 20 runs and drop 4 catches,and then tell the reporter ,have u seen my catch? Zaheer should be dropped ,he is totally unfit,although he is very skillful Make all Ranji teams to follow this routine compulasry,so there are no flat track unfit bullies comes for contention in national team

  • JohnnyRook on February 22, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    So Sanjay, do we make batting and bowling skills negotiable. I think its all about balance. The day we get three better "deals" than Zaheer Khan in terms of bowling, fielding and fitness, he should be shown the door but till then we have to make do with him. Same thing goes with Sachin Tendulkar or any other player for that matter. Nothing is non-negotiable but nothing should be ignored either.

  • ikingkk on February 22, 2012, 22:00 GMT

    Indian board should introduce some fitness standards or some kind of limit to serve the country like say 5 years or 10 years max. To be selected to the national team. No one should have a career spanning 1o years to serve the nation.

  • Hurricane08 on February 22, 2012, 21:21 GMT

    The overall premise of this article is on the mark and I completely agree. However, I still fail to understand howour selection is still not performance based. If a player is unfit but performs that should still raise eyebrows. But currently we have non-performers like Sehwag and Tendulkar that are being retained. Why??

  • JohnnyRook on February 22, 2012, 21:19 GMT

    So Sanjay, do we make batting and bowling skills negotiable. I think its all about balance. The day we get three better "deals" than Zaheer Khan in terms of bowling, fielding and fitness, he should be shown the door but till then we have to make do with him. Same thing goes with Sachin Tendulkar or any other player for that matter. Nothing is non-negotiable but nothing should be ignored either.

  • on February 22, 2012, 21:15 GMT

    Fitness is still not in the indian culture. If india will apply international fielding standard strictly, it will struggle to fill 11 players in the team. Manjrekar should understand that for winning cricket matches batting & bowling skills are equally important. No international team (even Aus & SA) has 11 fit player.

    If the same rule were applied earliar, Manjrekar never selected at international level.

  • on February 22, 2012, 21:11 GMT

    Sanjay, no body puts on 10kg in day. Except the backpack analogy everything is ok.

  • ivorycinnamon on February 22, 2012, 21:01 GMT

    As always, a very perceptive article, Sanjay. Your views are well-rounded and you always have 'India' in mind, not the individual. Plus you're courageous enough to tell it like it is. I may not always agree with you but I respect your views.

  • Mappi on February 22, 2012, 20:30 GMT

    Fitness is the core for any game and Sanjay article attribute the right approch, all sub continent teams should take lead from Australi, South Africa and England they are not ready for any compromises on Fitness, Just to remind Mr Shakeel the late 70's & 80's West Indies team were the fittest team thats why they dominated and then when they lost fitness & skills look at their performance since 1992 their last away victory in Australia againts a good team. As far as Sachin is concern at least he scored some more runs if you compare with Laxman, but Sachin has to now decide his retirement BCCI doesnt have Australian approch to tell Sachin that you are not in our future plans????

  • Nish_US on February 22, 2012, 19:56 GMT

    If fitness is given more weight than skill, then our test team would now have players like Raina, Yuvraj, Kaif, (who I think was more suited to tests than to ODIs, as he more often than not did the consolidation job in the matches he played than slogging) jadejas (even the former ajay jadeja) and the bowling dept will just have spinners (less fitness level requirement) or bowling alrounders, as none of our slow medium bowlers would qualify as fast bowlers.

    Raising the bar for upcoming players will definitely make sense, but trying to impose those requirements on proven performers (especially having seen the performance of the upcoming young and fit replacements) will only result in a turmoil.

    Rather than fitness, if they can use performance as the key for the seniors like the australia did (with hussey and ponting) and when/if they have replacements rearing to go (unlike the repeated failures like raina, rohit, jadeja), then definitely it will make more sense.

  • itsthewayuplay on February 22, 2012, 19:56 GMT

    Fitness is not a new issue. Indian cricketers historically with the exception of Kapil Dev have been unfit. But why stop at fitness? What about form? Whilst Jadeja has played one or two good knocks with the bat in ODIs and bowled a couple of magical deliveries what possesed the CSK to pay $2m for him? He may deliver but surely you pay that much for proven rather than potential talent? Then how much? Indian cricket is heading the way of the English Premiership where players loyalties will be to their their IPL team rather than the international team.

  • Semoli on February 22, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    Why not make fitness test results public. Complete transparency.

  • MaruthuDelft on February 22, 2012, 19:35 GMT

    Manjrekar is correct. Some people don't observe. Often batsmen get out after their potentially boundry yielding shots get stopped. Somhow good fielding upsets batsmen and energise bowlers. And run outs form a significant proportion of ODI's and T20s. So as airy strokes which can be utilised to dismiss batsmen only if a team is fit. And the psychological effect of 11 fit looking players ready to pounce could really intimidate.

  • guesswhat555 on February 22, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    Oh Sanjay! u r back at it again..until ganguly retired in 2007-08 we didnt even have one athletic player in our test team..yes not even 1 but we were still winning matches home and abroad..we lost cuz our team collectively failed (batting & bowling) and not cuz we were not able to save those extra 20 runs..blah!! even our one day was pretty good until then...we had similar problems when greg chappel was India's coach and the yongsters was the mantra for indian team..we were losing miserably then and we are losing miserable now with youngsters as mantra again. You need batsman who can score 50 or 100 not someone who can save 10 runs in the field but score only 15...crazy dude!!

  • enthusiastic on February 22, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    sad but so true, India with all his financial power is no good when it comes to playing on foreign soil and one of the bane has always been its fitness levels and related aspects like fielding and running between the wickets. SL is the most hardworking bunch of cricketers, it is obvious they are not fed with a silver spoon like the Indians. Sachin misfielded twice andd costed two fours in the tied oneday game against SL. It's time he and other unfit players make way for fitter players.

  • drsandeep009 on February 22, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    sehwag needs to lose weight instead of losing his mind..... but one thing he must lose at present is his spot in the odi eleven....

  • crazycricketfan4life on February 22, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    Sanjay Manjrekar to me is the second best commentator in the world (second only to Nasser Hussain) because they are actually not afraid to speak the truth and state matters as they are. Good article and I couldn't agree with it more.

    P.S. - Did somebody just compare Inzamam-Ul-Huq to Virender Sehwag???? Are you out of your mind.....Sehwag doesn't hold a bone over the great Inzy....

  • on February 22, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    i dont know why this guy called sanjay manjrekar continuously attacking vvs laxman.sanjay manjrekar is actually afraid to point out sachin tendulkar or he is attacking tendulkar through laxman..all of us know laxman was playing with a sore back since the last 3 years and he played many match winning /saving inningses during this period..laxman was never a complete athelete in his entire career and the selectors never hesitated to throw him out of the team whenever they were looking for a scapegoat.His stature never prevented them denying the great batsman to play a single world cup even when he was at the peak form..he was in the team due to his class and ability to play in difficult situations.dear sanjay, you can only dream about such great inningses played by the great artist..and your young guns have got enough opportunities in the onedayers,where is the replacement for vvs in tests, rohit sharma? ,where is his fitness and stamina? he is out of the team because he is a failure .

  • Gkr_Sabka_Yaar on February 22, 2012, 18:15 GMT

    I disagree....if you start preferring fitness over talent then I guess you will miss some very good players. If you take fitness as criterion then Ashwin will have to go along with Zaheer, and some others....from YOUNGER GENERATION...I support the rotation policy that India implemented though there should have been change in the batting order and line up for that....

  • AjitNarayan on February 22, 2012, 17:17 GMT

    At the age of 39, Rahul Dravid is still the fittest Indian cricketer I've seen for a while. Better than youngsters like Nohit Sharma. Dravid has only missed test matches due to having a fever and a broken jaw. Both not related to fitness.

  • US_Indian on February 22, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    Dude sanjay- you have repeated what i have been telling or writing in this and yahoo's comments repeatedly. We all know that culture of physical fitness was not there ever in india but still we had players like Solkar, Abid Ali, MK Pataudi, even our sunil gavaskar and later on came guys like Kapil, Azhar, Ajay Jadeja, Robin Singh, Mohd.Kaif etc who were excellent fielders and swift between the wickets. The two biggest advantages of being fit is one as a batsman you can rotate the strike without getting bogged down and put pressure on opposite bowlers, fielders and captain to change their tactics frequently and the other being from the fielding side, that opposite batsmen think twice before taking the liberty of snatching a run from the fast and swift fielders which we saw in these games when the ball goes to virat or raina , and the other being the catches or even half catches being taken which gives wickets as well as motivates the bowlers and dropped catches cost matches too.

  • on February 22, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    Sanjay Manjrekar talking about fitness being a pre-req. That is a good one. Manjrekar was a superb technician - more solid than the Wall; but his fitness was questionable at best.

  • on February 22, 2012, 16:34 GMT

    Have to agree on this one - batting and bowling might rely on skills. There can be no excuse for bad fielding and general fitness. Subcontinental teams, barring SriLanka rarely put a premium on easy runs, quick running between the wickets etc. The problem for India however, is also that some of their best young fielders are short on skills department. Raina, Rohit Sharma and Jadeja have been around, but haven't quite been the sort of players Dravid, or Laxman were at 23-24 yrs of age. Their currency of talent doesn't buy them performances outside flat pitches since they haven't added the much needed grit and addressed technical issues. And the one who do have skills - Ashwin, Ojha, Yadav - aren't agile enough. Only Virat Kohli fits the bill. Manoj Tiwari can be another good man to have around. There's no excuse for 25-27 yr old men like Vinay Kumar and Irfan Pathan for cramping up in 38th over. If you can't last a 50 over ODI, you've no business being an international cricketer ..

  • Herath-UK on February 22, 2012, 16:02 GMT

    One factor to look at is have the fielding standards of Asian cricketers fallen below or improved over the years. The fact Manjekar conveniently forgets is the recent increase in the work load on Indian and Sri Lankan stars due to IPL. They are gruelling few weeks involving a lot of travel and the bodies start to fail towards the latter part of the year. Ranil Herath -Kent

  • MitenD on February 22, 2012, 15:43 GMT

    I completely agree, Harsha. Having a great fielding side is key to winning consistently. Stop a boundary, get the batsman frustrated and he can throw his wicket away. Take a half chance given by a top batsman and the batting collapses. Get a run out at a crucial time and the game automatically turns into your favour. Fielding (which includes taking catches) will win matches for you! Our culture needs to change!

  • Nutcutlet on February 22, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    @moBlue. The world, and the world of cricket naturally, has moved on since Gavaskar, Amarnath & co. graced the field. There is no doubt whatsoever that fielding and run-stealing (see my previous post) are now prerequisites for the fc cricketer, let alone elite test players. Skill is one thing, fitness is another -that's true, but surely, to maximise the skills a player possesses, fitness is essential. Cricket has evolved like all human activities and the spectator in the C21 expects to see athleticism in the field. It's all well and good saying X & Y have safe hands; that may be true, but if they can't make ground, ATHLETICALLY, to the get to the catch in the first place, then they are letting their team down. I have to reject your romantic argument. This much I will concede (I have been watching test cricket since 1960), close catching has not improved significantly in the last 50+ years. I would, however, advise you to revise your opinions. Fitness matters; without it, a team fails!

  • on February 22, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    Just want to say that Sanjay Manjrekar is Most Unfit player of india when he was part of indian cricket team.. He was run out 6 times in World Cup 1992..

  • S.Jagernath on February 22, 2012, 14:34 GMT

    Fitness is a prerequisite to be selected for India,the other prerequisite is good technique.Suresh Raina & Rohit Sharma might be fit & possibly talented but lack technique.Being good in the field is not enough to be a consisten batsmen or bowler.Each part of the game needs a good technique.Cheteshwar Pujara,Ajinkya Rahane & many others in India are not just fit & fast in the field but do have talent & techniques that need very little polishing.With Raina specifically,he just has no technique.Indians need to value the longer formats more & value solid techniques.Umesh Yadav is an example of a bowling technique that severely needs polishing.

  • Naresh28 on February 22, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    FULLY AGREE - Fitness is the benchmark in todays cricket world. The type of cricket being played requires it. Take for example the indian pace bowler - they do not have the stamina to bowl all day. If we do not strike early in an innings against opposition. We are then dead in the the rest of the game. Huge scores have been piled up against us on the last two trips.England did it and Australia realised it and used against us. This then affects the batsman.

  • Mad_Critic on February 22, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    Had these suggestions from Manjrekar considered by BCCI way back in 1987, Sanjay wouldn't have make a debut at all.

  • on February 22, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    Sanjay from all his articles I have read speaks his mind and hence not very popular with fans and cricketers unlike a sidekick like Shastry who will never have the guts to criticize a tendulkar .....Good one Sanjay

  • on February 22, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    Forget fitness and who plays who doesnt and all those things.. The most imp thing what i think is Laxman seriously needs to take Manjrekar out for a dinner if not any 1 else.

  • Raj12345 on February 22, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    You have brave to tell truth. Yes. Stupid stuff, people are more worrying about World cup. I personally don't care about WC. what is point of winning WC and loosing every where.

  • chapathishot on February 22, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    Aravinda was dropped for fitness reasons and Arjuna along senior players decided to make themselves unavailable for a tour to support him.So it was there in Srilanka also in the nineties.Yes in this six packs fitness culture every one is thinking fitness as six packs ,sorry it is not it is your ability to do you job to your maximum and not having a lower BMI or 6 packs .As a cricketer two things required are flexibility to avoid injuries and stamina to compete till the end.IF you have ability like Inzy or a Viru ,you can always let go threes or two as they can get more runs than cooks and Husseys by sheer ability to find boundaries and hit sixes

  • crikbuff on February 22, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    Sanjay Manjrekar maintains his high standards! Unlike other 'experts' who choose to be politically correct, Sanjay isn't scared to call a spade a spade! It is time Indian cricket takes a hard look at Sehwag and Zaheer. If they don't maintain fitness standards, they should be removed from the Indian cricket team, and more dedicated youngsters should be given the opportunity to perform at the international level.

  • on February 22, 2012, 11:20 GMT

    If fitness is only thing that australia dominated for 10 years not the skill alone. Then what about West Indies fitness when they dominated. Holding, Walsh, Garner, Loyd .... are they were fit enough and fast on the field. Sorry Sanjay you got it wrong. In between lines you mentioned aged crickerter, clear point of Sachin. You were behind sachin earlier too and with his performance you had no choice but to keep your comments to your chest. You got the opportuninty becasue of Dhonin you started again...

  • joisbalu on February 22, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    NICE article.. Look at hussey and ponting.. compare them with sewag and laxman..

  • Nutcutlet on February 22, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    This is an unanswerable argument. The Indian ODI side is fitter than the Test side, but that's not saying much.The inability to chase down most balls heading for the rope; to rotate the strike; to turn twos into threes - all of these skills that are built on fitness seem to be beneath (or do I mean beyond?) the majority of Indian players. Even diving for the crease is something that is done with reluctance, not as a matter of professional pride. Now, like it or not, India is a team in decline and their sinking in the rankings is down to several factors. Retaining older players who have lost any fitness that they once may have had as the natural endowment of youth is principal amongst these. It used to be axiomatic that a player had to excel in two of three disciplines to deserve a test place. Not now, not if you're Indian (especially a so-called legend). But so long as the BCCI is coining it with all manner of commercial/ broadcating wheeling & dealing, no one in power could care less.

  • moBlue on February 22, 2012, 10:48 GMT

    this article is a bunch of hogwash! i saw VVS play on his last 2 tours of AUS! he had knee problems and all kinds of fitness issues then too! yet he was da bomb in AUS on the last 2 tours! check out the test scorecards if you don't believe me! besides, anyone remember gavaskar, amarnath and vishvanath? do you think those dudes were fit? don't make me laugh! yet they faced seriously hostile bowling by WI and AUS that would have killed raina the way he plays short-pitched bowling, and proved rohit sharma to be even more pathetic than he currently is, and they did fine in test cricket! in fact, mohinder was an all-rounder in ODIs, primarily responsible [and was the MOM, if i remember correctly] for IND winning the 83 WC final! his fitness would have been a joke! yet, this article is fallacious! fitness plays no role - yes, no role! - in batters scoring runs!!! as long as they can hold on to catches [laxman and tendulkar don't drop too many!], their batting talent is all that counts!!!

  • unregisteredalien on February 22, 2012, 10:18 GMT

    @sweetspot, flabbiness does not equal flexibility!

  • unregisteredalien on February 22, 2012, 10:13 GMT

    "Australia were uncharacteristically patient with the ageing Michael Hussey and Ponting because it was only their batting form that was in question, not their fitness." I never thought about it from this angle - it makes a lot of sense.

  • on February 22, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    Hahahaha! I shall concede that Arjuna was rather rotund but the rest of the 96' outfit were sprightly and extremely athletic in the field. Fellows like Mahanama are right up there in the pantheon of great fielders.

  • Positive_Critic on February 22, 2012, 10:03 GMT

    Were these not the same ideas a certain Mr.Greg Chappell was trying to instill in the indian team way back in 2007. People including the author here were criticizing Greg at that time... He stuck with Raina but he was a villain.. MSD can go on playing Raina till he retires or steps down as captain and that's alright.... Double Standards of Indian cricket...

  • on February 22, 2012, 9:41 GMT

    'For certain types of bodies, fitness comes at the cost of flexibility and suppleness', 'cricket is cricket, not boxing, wrestling, soccer etc.'

    Unfortunately this is exemplifies the lack of knowledge about fitness in general among many Indians. Being fit does not cost flexibility - being fit equals greatter flexibility, suppleness and strength. Boxers have muscle, but also have great stamina and suppleness. The australians, english, South africans and Sri Lankans are far ahead of India's thinking in this area.

    Extra stamina means is batsmen turning two's into three's through their entire innings. Fielders turning two's into one's and hunting down batsmen in run-outs. It means there is less pressure on batsmen to hit boundaries and play risky shots. Skill is great and essential, but stamina and fitness provides longevity and means teams fight to the end of the match.

    I think this excuse that fitness is not natural to Indians/South Asians is pathetic.

  • SRaj on February 22, 2012, 9:10 GMT

    Well said Sanjay...If it is for fitness, selectors would not have stick with Laxman. Even Dhoni was right about it. But, as long as the players are in great form, fitness doesn't even come into the picture. It is cleanly exposed when they go abroad...

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on February 22, 2012, 8:40 GMT

    good article by mr manjarekar , but sadly our fans and some players just cant take some honest criticism.

  • on February 22, 2012, 8:40 GMT

    Its a undeniable fact but who wants to take it seriously or who wants to change it?........Its not unusual considering that we're living in a nation where hardwork and self discipline are never respected and rewarded.It was quite evident when I went to Singapore where I witnessed greater self discipline from their locals.There is no police to monitor them.So coming to the topic - to excel in fitness it requires greater self discipline and hardwork as well as greater level of commitment which the nation as a whole is lacking right now

  • ansram on February 22, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    Selecting cricketers should be more like selection for the armed forces - no compromises on fitness and no concessions should be allowed however skilled the player is. This is even moee important in a team game like cricket because one or two fit and skilled players do not deserve to loose matches just because many others are liabilities in the field. There should also be a rule that players above 35 will not be allowed to play unless they can demonstrate that their fitness levels are almost on par with the youngsters. The face of cricket has changed and today fitness, and also strength and stamina are as essential as cricketing skills. There should not be players complaining of cramps, fatigue etc because no runners are allowed now.

  • on February 22, 2012, 8:05 GMT

    the most coherent argument made all year on part of the solution for Indian cricket. He's not going to land a cushy commentators spot paid for by the BCCI anytime soon :)

  • KingOfEntertainment on February 22, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    Looks like Mr. Manjrekar is hell bent on bashing Sehwag this time after VVS. I agree that all said players need to work on their fitness but no cricketing nation would take a R Jadeja over Y Pathan in their team because its their skill (of winning matches) which separate the two. Also Dhoni shld stop making fool of people rgding fielding nd d rotation policy as in WC2015 v rqre players like Y Pathan who can clear those huge Australian grounds rather than R Jadeja who will keep running fast but also keep floundering and will add to losing streak of matches.x

  • Captain_Crick on February 22, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    Classy analysis once again!

  • rahulcricket007 on February 22, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    INDIA HAS GOOD FIELDER .KOHLI , RAINA , JADEJA , TIWARI , YUVRAJ ARE EXCELLENT FIELDERS . BHAJJI IS ALSO A GOOD FIELDER & HAS THE STRONGEST ARM TO THROW IN FIELD .

  • rahulcricindia on February 22, 2012, 7:32 GMT

    very much to the point and eye-opening article from Sanjay, I doubt if ever Team India consider fitness as the important part of the game...

  • LondonRaj on February 22, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    Absolutely spot on. Wonder how BCCI and selectors will be convinced. Couple of points though. I am sure an unfit person will not ever get selected. But if an unfit person has achieved glory in the past like Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag, Zahir even Dhoni have (the list goes on...) (look how terrible Dhoni is behind wicket...) and they are able to just walk the pitch their place is reserved. Australian selectors didn't even blink when they decided to drop Ponting, even when the next ODI is at Hobart, his home ground. Imagine that happening with Tendulka in Mumbai. I suppose the selectors need to be tough.

  • donda on February 22, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    Totally agree with this article. Bad Fitness blocks player performance. Srilanka came back in to CB series only on the basis of fitness and skills They have young players and fit players. Indian oldies are no more gold, they should retire from ODI. Sachin it's time to go .

    Even after playing highly competetive IPL, indian fielding and fitness standards are not improved. It's so sad that a worldchampion team is losing like that. So sad.

  • leonine1 on February 22, 2012, 7:00 GMT

    "For in Australia, performance, not the player, is king." hahahahahaha! Before the test series against India, Ponting went 2 years without scoring a century, scoring at a measly 27 runs/innings. He wasn't dropped. Australia used to be very strict in their selection policy. With Ponting, however, they have shown that it's a tough job being a selector. Mr. Manjrekar, let's not always criticize our system. It's a tough period for the Indian Cricket Team. But let's keep faith on the players' abilities. The same players delivered in the recent past. They deserve time to sort themselves out.

  • on February 22, 2012, 6:59 GMT

    Sanjay is quite right about his comments / recommendations on the fitness policy as such.The question is what are the selectors doing about or not doing about dropping certain so called 'stars' of Indian cricket ?especially when they are unfit as well as not scoring runs? why the so called rotation policy ? why not a dropping policy if a person fails consecutively for two innings? Personally I advocate a dedicated finess coach, not necessarily having a cricket back ground but a coach who underdstands things like desired / expected body weight , BMI calculations etc. Some of our senior players are indeed over weight and that can be seen a mile away. Thanks .Leon DSilva

  • avitalks on February 22, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    Very well said. Now if only our selection committee would muster some courage to do something about this. However, in my experience, fitness as a necessary part of life is missing not just in Indian cricket, but in Indian culture in general. How else do we explain the lack of any Indian presence in high energy/high intensity sports like Athletics, Gymnastics and the like? A bit hard to change a player's psyche at such a late stage in his career, when it was never imbued in him since childhood...

  • Raju_Iyer on February 22, 2012, 6:42 GMT

    Kudos to Sanjay for hitting the nail on the head. The sad but bitter truth is that being fit has never been a high priority area for Indian cricketers which is so ironic in a sport where a game is much longer than say tennis or hockey. Better late than never, hopefully we learn from these two disastrous tours and make amends in the future.

  • on February 22, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    I know at the start of this article that it will end up like another bang bang Laxman, I really donno what Manjrekar has against Laxman. second thing comparison with Australia and their fitness levels, then hey we are not into athletics, if fitness would be the criteria to play cricket then no Asian team will ever play let alone win the games and we would never have known the names of the Ranatunga's and Inzamam's never...I agree Fitness is "a" thing and not "the" thing...

  • on February 22, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    I agree wholeheartedly with Sanjay here, but I don't think it's purely an Indian problem. It is a South Asian cricket cultural problem - where we place cricket skills higher than sheer athleticism and fitness. As a Sri Lankan, I am glad phisiyos since Alex Konturis (sp?) in the mid 90s have made the Lankan players understand the importance of fitness. The problem though is, I think, fitness becomes a goal only after a bloke breaks into the national team or is in its fringes. A truly national policy would make fitness a priority for players from, at least, their U19 days. This way they break into the national team with a grasp of what their fitness goals ought to be - and the right attitude to fitness.

  • sweetspot on February 22, 2012, 6:09 GMT

    For certain types of bodies, fitness comes at the cost of flexibility and suppleness. It might actually hamper the delivery of skill on the field. Cricket is still very much a skill game. If fitness was key, India, SL and Pak would never have won world cups. It is important, but to bring it up time and again is of no use. Is Yuvraj Singh a supremely fit athlete? No. But can he take incredible catches? YES! I'd rather see India fine tune its skills and maintain basic health and fitness rather than go for some kind of militant fitness routine and keep losing key matches like the supremely fit SA.

  • chapathishot on February 22, 2012, 5:58 GMT

    Umpteenth time this sort of an article is published in cricinfo,Skills are most important and fitness is a secondary one.Has Sanjay did any thing on his fitness in his playing days.Now every one is jumping in on fitness band wagon.Fitness is required for a cricketer but not essential like the other sports.The there would not have been room for Inzy,Aravinda,shewag,Arjuna etc .

  • Romenevans on February 22, 2012, 5:40 GMT

    The coach himself is over weight and over age for young guns, what else would you expect? Fletcher has really fractured Indian team.

  • venky2010 on February 22, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    Sanjay,

    Your points are valid and noted. Just one question, why people like you, Ravi Shastri, SM Gavaskar & others leave your private media commitments and work on the betterment of Indian cricket.

    Sitting in a AC room any guy, even I can comment, but will be hard to deliver on field. Playing chess is difficult, watching is easy.

    You guys seems to have lot of ideas and views, will be better you take some responsibilities to make a change.

    Anil Kumble, Venky Prasad & Srinath are doing for Karnata. I sincerly hope your name will soon associated with some onfield activities.

    Thank you

  • arulraas on February 22, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    Description about VVS is unfair when the same could be said of anyone. Mr Manjrekar, avoiding to take a dig at Mr Tendulkar, highlights the difference between India and Australia, handling arguably the best batsman after Bradman in Australia vs greatest of all time Indian. I would have to say critics have to be uniform. Australia tried nearly 10 spinners after Mr Warne, dropped Katich even while performing. Every country has its methods, just adopting other policy is a recipe for disaster, example - Greg Chappel in India. The problem lies with the administration, if players are powerful than the administration, it is not the players fault but certainly is the administrators fault for not smacking them. Would Indians support such moves however big the player is without a conflict of interest, apart from the curious case of Mr Ganguly, who was loved and loathed equally!

  • on February 22, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    Cricket is Cricket, it is certainly not wrestling,Boxing,Athletics or Soccer. Cricket is more of an art. If fitness is important then it is when it comes to catching, one can't drop to many catches and then hope to win matches. I do not deny importance of fitness in Cricket, but you cannot make it non negotiable! Cricket is an art,Mohammad Ali or Ussain Bolt can't be a great Cricketer.Surly fitness is very important in modern day Cricket, but I have not seen many youngsters to be fit cricketers.

  • on February 22, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    Sanjay, Your words worth millions. Imagine if this was put into practice what a great price will be the Indian team? What great results could we see??

  • on February 22, 2012, 3:51 GMT

    Sanjay on spot here especially teams from sub continent carrying a lot of burden in the from of aging unfit legends that also blocks the path of youngsters. Fitness should be a prime concern when you pick international 11.

  • on February 22, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    Fitness is most important so also attitude. Sehwag is absolutely careless and carefree. Playing 20-20 have destroyed some of the players ability to play according to the situations.Immediate steps should be taken to lessen 20-20 matches and also frequency of all types of matches especially limited over versions.Nothing of these steps will be taken by B.C.C.I because they want to kill the golden goose thereby killing the real cricket also!

  • Neo2109 on February 22, 2012, 3:28 GMT

    Spot on Sanjay. Too long have India's old horses been allowed to bide their time. The only counter-argument would be is there enough bench strength in the domestic league to replace these players? But let's not forget it works both ways too. Take Raina for example for all his agility in the field, he's woefully out of form and his performance with bat and ball is second-rate at best. Question, do we have an attacking youngster who can replace him and field the way he does?

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Neo2109 on February 22, 2012, 3:28 GMT

    Spot on Sanjay. Too long have India's old horses been allowed to bide their time. The only counter-argument would be is there enough bench strength in the domestic league to replace these players? But let's not forget it works both ways too. Take Raina for example for all his agility in the field, he's woefully out of form and his performance with bat and ball is second-rate at best. Question, do we have an attacking youngster who can replace him and field the way he does?

  • on February 22, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    Fitness is most important so also attitude. Sehwag is absolutely careless and carefree. Playing 20-20 have destroyed some of the players ability to play according to the situations.Immediate steps should be taken to lessen 20-20 matches and also frequency of all types of matches especially limited over versions.Nothing of these steps will be taken by B.C.C.I because they want to kill the golden goose thereby killing the real cricket also!

  • on February 22, 2012, 3:51 GMT

    Sanjay on spot here especially teams from sub continent carrying a lot of burden in the from of aging unfit legends that also blocks the path of youngsters. Fitness should be a prime concern when you pick international 11.

  • on February 22, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    Sanjay, Your words worth millions. Imagine if this was put into practice what a great price will be the Indian team? What great results could we see??

  • on February 22, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    Cricket is Cricket, it is certainly not wrestling,Boxing,Athletics or Soccer. Cricket is more of an art. If fitness is important then it is when it comes to catching, one can't drop to many catches and then hope to win matches. I do not deny importance of fitness in Cricket, but you cannot make it non negotiable! Cricket is an art,Mohammad Ali or Ussain Bolt can't be a great Cricketer.Surly fitness is very important in modern day Cricket, but I have not seen many youngsters to be fit cricketers.

  • arulraas on February 22, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    Description about VVS is unfair when the same could be said of anyone. Mr Manjrekar, avoiding to take a dig at Mr Tendulkar, highlights the difference between India and Australia, handling arguably the best batsman after Bradman in Australia vs greatest of all time Indian. I would have to say critics have to be uniform. Australia tried nearly 10 spinners after Mr Warne, dropped Katich even while performing. Every country has its methods, just adopting other policy is a recipe for disaster, example - Greg Chappel in India. The problem lies with the administration, if players are powerful than the administration, it is not the players fault but certainly is the administrators fault for not smacking them. Would Indians support such moves however big the player is without a conflict of interest, apart from the curious case of Mr Ganguly, who was loved and loathed equally!

  • venky2010 on February 22, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    Sanjay,

    Your points are valid and noted. Just one question, why people like you, Ravi Shastri, SM Gavaskar & others leave your private media commitments and work on the betterment of Indian cricket.

    Sitting in a AC room any guy, even I can comment, but will be hard to deliver on field. Playing chess is difficult, watching is easy.

    You guys seems to have lot of ideas and views, will be better you take some responsibilities to make a change.

    Anil Kumble, Venky Prasad & Srinath are doing for Karnata. I sincerly hope your name will soon associated with some onfield activities.

    Thank you

  • Romenevans on February 22, 2012, 5:40 GMT

    The coach himself is over weight and over age for young guns, what else would you expect? Fletcher has really fractured Indian team.

  • chapathishot on February 22, 2012, 5:58 GMT

    Umpteenth time this sort of an article is published in cricinfo,Skills are most important and fitness is a secondary one.Has Sanjay did any thing on his fitness in his playing days.Now every one is jumping in on fitness band wagon.Fitness is required for a cricketer but not essential like the other sports.The there would not have been room for Inzy,Aravinda,shewag,Arjuna etc .

  • sweetspot on February 22, 2012, 6:09 GMT

    For certain types of bodies, fitness comes at the cost of flexibility and suppleness. It might actually hamper the delivery of skill on the field. Cricket is still very much a skill game. If fitness was key, India, SL and Pak would never have won world cups. It is important, but to bring it up time and again is of no use. Is Yuvraj Singh a supremely fit athlete? No. But can he take incredible catches? YES! I'd rather see India fine tune its skills and maintain basic health and fitness rather than go for some kind of militant fitness routine and keep losing key matches like the supremely fit SA.