By Obaid ur Rehman.
We come up with a lot of angles to be discussed whenever we talk about Pakistan’s cricket. Declaring it fortunate or unfortunate but at least it is true that Pakistan cricket is full of news, scenarios, controversies and the other relevant issues. Most of the discussions on Pakistan’s cricket are based upon various conflicts, issues and problems and that is unfortunate for sure. We are quite aware with the fact that Pakistan cricket is always surrounded by daily and fresh news updates just like a news channel. Although the love of this nation for Pakistan’s cricket is sky high, without a doubt, but let us not forget the fact that it is that love and concern due to which people consider it very important to dig out the root causes of the problems and controversies which we witness within our whole infrastructure of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) regularly.
Fitness issues have always been a serious concern for Pakistani cricketers. Pakistani cricketers do not have such fitness level which other cricketers in the world have. There are multiple reasons due to which Pakistani cricketers lack this ability to perform well without any physical hindrance while playing in tough conditions specially. For maintaining the physical fitness, players have to keep themselves fit and in active position the entire time even if they are not in action in the ground. Unlike other international players, it has been observed particularly in Asian countries where cricketers always find it very difficult to compete on international standards in terms of their fitness levels. We need to understand the facts and find the answers to the questions that why is it so. Why do players in Asia and specifically in Pakistan face injuries and relevant fitness problems after every couple of months and thus become unable to play for a notable period of time.
Right now Pakistan team is currently in Abbottabad for the training camp ahead of an upcoming mega tour to England and undergoing the fitness tests being supervised and dictated by Pakistan Army. The results so far are extremely shocking and disappointing as only Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, the most aged cricketers of current contracted players, have been declared as the only players who have met the minimum fitness level in Abbottabad Training Camp. The other players were not even able to come closer to the minimum scoring point depicting it as the most alarming situation for PCB as far as physical fitness of players is concerned.
A couple of days ago Pakistan cricket has suffered yet another blow when Yasir Shah, one of the leading spinners of Pakistan, got suffered a knee injury. This injury will now keep him out of touch for atleast 4-5 weeks. Yasir Shah had also missed Asia Cup and World T20 following this year due to positive results of doping tests and somehow due to injuries as well. Now as per current situation, when he gets fully recovered has to do a lot for maintaining his fitness level and passing fitness test for becoming the part of squad for England Tour. These are the problems which Pakistani players usually face when they tour that country where playing conditions are always difficult particularly for Asian players and bowlers. It is so that our players are not used to of playing in difficult conditions and maintaining the required best fitness level.
The major root cause of such problems is that PCB looks least concerned towards improvising fitness boost camps on grass root level. Players come forward without being through to fitness camps due to which they face fitness problems and related serious issues while competing on international standards. Right now PCB is implying temporary approach to maintain the fitness level by organizing fitness camps only before a tour. This should not be the way to make our players physically strong. PCB should rather work on grass root level to raise the fitness standards of players. Obviously it cannot be done immediately as these steps are addressed over time. PCB must realize the fact that fitness levels of our players are not up to the international standards and only initiating sudden drastic steps can be useful under these consequences. PCB should execute proper plans through which players can be made much healthier and fitter. This can be done by having a proper fitness academy where players get lectures as well along with physical training on regular basis.
Other cricket boards consider the players’ fitness extremely important and they provide them a proper platform through which their players maintain their fitness level without experiencing injuries. Right now Pakistan is at 10th Grade of fitness level while other teams like Australia and South Africa are at 14th Grade. The difference is loud and clear and it should be enough to make PCB realize that in order to raise fitness standards of our players, effective initiatives must be taken as soon as possible and on urgent grounds so that we can say that at least there is something good enough in our cricket which cheers us up.
The writer is Islamabad based Journalist and a Research Analyst.