Pakistan cricketers: Fitness key to batting form

Published: February 25, 2011
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Much will be expected of Umar Akmal, who must maintain form as Pakistan launch their World Cup campaign. PHOTO: AFP

The endless late nights comprising hours of pajama cricket have commenced, Black Eyed Peas is blaring out after every boundary scored and the countless commercials will play for the next six weeks.

Perhaps what keeps most Pakistani cricket fanatics up at night is debating their side’s batsmen and their batting order. ‘Why don’t they move this person down and they should play this guy’ are just two of the comments thrown at me continuously over the past three years.

My batting expertise comprises slogging a Shoaib Akhtar half-tracker that he lobbed at me when I first arrived at the NCA on a Sunday afternoon. That was meant as a welcome gift, marking my arrival into Pakistan. Next up, I danced down the track, only to end up crumpled as Shoaib dug in a bouncer which hit me in the ribs.

Moving onto more experienced batsmen, I can safely say that some of Misbahul Haq’s fitness figures were fantastic and equal to international players. His leg strength was incredible and held the fitness testing record for back squat at 135 kilogramme. This allows him to maintain speed on the field, especially over short distances when he fields inside the circle.

Ahmed Shehzad is still quite young and thankfully he learnt that if he wants to be part of the team, he needs to make sure that he remains fit. His strength is his speed over short distances as his upper-body strength is developing.

Where do I start with Younus Khan? His flexibility is incredible. His aerobic endurance, while pounding out the distance on the hills of Bhurban, was extraordinary and his core strength is excellent.

Funnily enough, he’s a guy who has stayed away from injuries because maintaining fitness has always been important to him. His 313 against Sri Lanka in Karachi’s 35-plus heat and high humidity was a testament to his fitness.

He’s hardly going to set the World’s strongest man records but his engine could run for an eternity. In this day and age, where players are asked to play cricket for at least 250 days a year, that is a perfect trait to have.

One from the young brigade, Umar Akmal, now understands the importance of training. He was always asking questions about his gym work, always recovering properly and trying to wear clothes that were cooler than me.

A lot is going to be asked of this guy on the field and he needs to keep working like he has over the past 18 months. There are no short-cuts to greatness and he needs to make sure he understands that well in order to maintain the form that he had at the start of his career.

As these guys prepare for the coming weeks, one thing they can take absolute confidence in is that they, and the rest of the squad, have done the work to be able to endure the length of this tournament as well as the testing conditions they find themselves in.

Inshallah they will score a lot of runs and with that, put the much-needed pressure on the opposition. Good luck , guys.

david.dwyer

David Dwyer

The writer is Pakistan’s former training and conditioning coach

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