Shankar Basu, the Indian team’s strength and conditioning coach, has revealed that failing the yo-yo test was the turning point in Mohammed Shami’s career and led to his resurgence as one of India’s frontline pacers.
Shami had been dropped from India’s Test team for the one-off game against Afghanistan, who visited the country for their debut in international cricket’s longest format last year, after he failed to meet the BCCI’s requirements on the fitness test.
Before failing the test, Shami had battled poor form and multiple setbacks owing to injury. Having led India’s pace attack brilliantly during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2015, Shami played just three ODIs after the tournament until he was dumped from the squad for the Test in June 2018.
However, he has since mended his ways and become one of the prime wicket-takers in the Indian team. A first-choice pacer in India’s Test XI, Shami is also a part of the 2019 World Cup squad, where he is back-up for India’s first-choice pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, and is set to feature in India’s upcoming games, with Bhuvneshwar out briefly due to a hamstring injury.
I think his [Shami's] distribution of fat, we have done his fat testing over three years and it is the same, he is a piece of work.
"Failing the fitness test was a blessing in disguise. After that, he was a changed man," Basu told reporters in Southampton on Wednesday, 19 June. "He was so determined, and I think he is also blessed with some amazing genes. We all talk about intermittent fasting, and Mohammed Shami does intermittent fasting inadvertently. He doesn't even know what it is, but he does it on his own.
"I think his distribution of fat, we have done his fat testing over three years and it is the same, he is a piece of work. The best part is he has changed his entire training regimen. I think training is now part of his lifestyle, which never used to be the case before. Everything has changed over the last three-four years. He wasn't the last person to get on to the bus, but after personal setbacks and failing that fitness test, he is a changed man. This is (the) 2.0 version of Mohammed Shami."
Speaking further on lifestyle and nutritional changes, Basu reflected on their effect on the wider group. Crediting these changes for the increase in pace among India’s fast bowlers, Basu also said that it helped the team recover quickly from the grind of the nearly two-month long Indian Premier League and be ready for the World Cup.
"The human body has a particular sort of sleep-wake cycle. And what happens is during the IPL, whether you like it or not, the boys take a beating. I would also say that this World Cup preparation was critical, with the IPL preceding it.
“During the IPL, the boys start sleeping invariably late - 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock. To get them back to sleeping early and to get them back to a training regimen was sort of a challenge and we had only eight days to come here.
"Since the boys have done it over the last four years, they quickly understand the value of sleep-wake cycle, good nutrition programme, supplements, training, strength work, conditioning, warm-ups - I can go on and on till the cows come home. Training, sleep-wake cycle and nutrition: these are the three hallmarks of a professional athlete. I think there is a huge buy-in for this within the Indian team and the results are there for everyone to see now.”
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