With the army brought in to handle our players’ fitness, what are we paying our ‘experts’ for?

Published: May 26, 2016
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Army steps in to prep Pakistan cricketers for on-field battles Photo: PCB

It seems the fate of our country lies in the hands of our soldiers; be it in a state of war or amidst a political crisis. Whenever rains flood our land, the army is called upon to take care of the victims. Whenever an earthquake jolts a part of our country, the army shows up as saviours. In other words, the army has always been and, unfortunately, will continue to be the Batman of Pakistan.

But most of us would never have, even in our wildest dreams, thought that our cricket team would be handed over to the army to help improve the lads’ fitness levels for the upcoming tours. This is a new low, even though the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) already has low standards.

Yonuis Khan with fellow teammates training at the Army Camp
Photo: PCB

PCB decided to send our cricketers to the Kakul Military Academy to attend a three week long training camp under the supervision of the army. While this will hopefully bear fruitful results in the near future; this action by the PCB is enough to question the existing staff’s ability. Training under the army is a different ball game altogether. Not only are the players tested to their very limits, they are also challenged mentally in harsh weather conditions.

The videos that have gone viral on social media show the sorry faces of our cricketers as they are forced to run up and down the hills of Kakul. Add to that the daily cross fit routine which seems to be challenging them physically. The weary condition of the players, as seen in the videos, is a cause for concern for everyone associated with Pakistani cricket.

In a recently conducted interview, however, the veteran middle order batsman and former captain, Younis Khan was all praises for the organisers of the camp. He went on to say that such camps should have been held earlier as they test the players to the best of their abilities.

But one of the most mind-boggling things, however, was the low levels of fitness amongst our youngsters, with the exception of a few such as Shan MasoodFawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan. The fact that the remaining youngsters couldn’t even compete with 41-year-old Misbahul Haq clearly shows what is lacking in our domestic circuit on the grass root level.

Shoaib Malik training at the Army Camp
Photo: PCB

While our coaches and remaining staff focus on techniques, they have neglected an extremely important aspect of any sport; fitness. I mean– how can a young player like Umar Akmal call himself an athlete if he cannot even complete a set of 20 push ups? Seriously? Not even 20 push ups!? Even I can do 30 in one go.

How can a young player like Umar Akmal call himself an athlete if he cannot even complete a set of 20 push ups? Photo: AFP

The dire lack of fitness is the answer to various questions regarding the performance of our team. Our poor fielding, which ended up costing us victories in the past, including the recent fielding mishaps against Australia during the World Cup, has a lot to do with the lack of fitness.

The running between wickets that has resulted in so many run outs over the past few years, starting from Inzamamul Haq all the way to Mohammad Hafeez; is also a consequence of inadequate fitness. Even problems like dehydration, muscle cramps, career threatening injuries have always been linked to substandard fitness.

I think it is safe to say the solution to our team’s problems lie in our cricketers upping their athleticism.

Amidst all this, a genuine question arises in the mind of every Pakistani cricket fan; why do the coaches, nutritionists, physiotherapists and the rest of the staff members get paid millions of rupees when they cannot accomplish what they have been employed to do? Isn’t this an insult to their own credibility especially when the army has been brought in to do their job more efficiently, and that too for free?

Do you think the army should have been asked for help in making our players fit?

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Raacikh Asghar

Raacikh Asghar

The author is a student of Political Science and has a keen interest in cricket. He also worked for The Nation's Sports Web Desk.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.