Ian Bishop’s message for players failing fitness tests

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Maheesh Theekshana was not picked in the Sri Lankan squad for the U-19 World Cup because of his weight. A little more than two years since then, Theekshana made his debut for the senior Sri Lanka team earlier this year at the age of 21. Former cricketer Ian Bishop tweeted Theekshana’s ‘now and then’ transformation story on Tuesday, saying that cricketers failing their fitness tests can take a leaf out of the off spinner’s book.

“When I hear young regional players failing fitness tests, I encourage them to look at Maheesh Theekshana now and read his story,” Bishop said.

Making his international debut vs South Africa during the home series in September, Theekshana struck with his first ball in international cricket. He ended his debut match with four wickets as Sri Lanka beat South Africa to complete a rare series win over a team ranked in the top five.

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In 2019, Theekshana, who was already a prodigy in Sri Lanka’s school cricket because of the skid he got off the pitch, weighed 105 kgs. The then director of cricket, Simon Willis, told Indian Express that the young spinner impressed everyone at a trial but was dropped because his fitness was dodgy.

“We doubted if he could take the rigours of international cricket. We dropped him for his own good,” said Willis.

“But Theeskana took it positively and worked really hard on it…Each time I saw, he looked fitter and fitter, dropping at least five kilos each time,” he added.

Two years ago, it took Theekshana 10.1 minutes to complete the two-kilometre test and his best in the YOYO test was 16.1. By 2020, he had dropped 22kgs, improved his YOYO test maximum to 19.2 and dropped the two-kilometre sprint time to 8.28 minutes, according to the report.

He did this by cutting off rice from his diet, sacrificed fried fish and snacks, and ran lap after lap around the Premadasa stadium.



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