Pakistan are safe with physically-fit batsmen
So far in this tournament the majority of interest and concern has been surrounding the fitness levels of fast-bowlers: which ones are injured, who is completely fit and bowling fast, and so forth.
But on these typically flat sub-continent pitches, where teams are scoring over 300 runs with temperatures reaching over 30 degrees and 70 per cent humidity, we tend to forget that the batsmen do most of the grunt work.
They have to be able to able to steal regular singles, be expected to turn ones into twos and continue to concentrate with their heart-rates reaching as high as 185 beats per minute and then go and field for 50 overs.
Now this brings me to one of my favourite batting stories. We had a training camp in Bhurban, at the foot of the Himalayas and I was flogging the players: making them run 1.8-kilometre (km) circuits up the hills in preparation for the 2009 World Twenty20.
On the third and last circuit, one of our opening batsmen – with his heart just about pounding out of his chest – came in towards the end of the pack, turned to me and simply said, “I think I would prefer to just keep trying to hit as many sixes as I can.
“There is less running in that!”
But let me try to dispel some of the fallacies about batsmen and fitness.
In a One-Day International, a batsman who scores a 50 will run approximately five to seven km while a batsman who scores 100 will run approximately 10 km – unless that batsmen is Shahid Afridi who would prefer to hit the ball out of the park altogether. On top of this they are then expected to field for 50 overs and be able to perform over 30 sprints of roughly 10-50 metres.
And looking at some of our batsmen let me give you some statistics: 1.79 and 1.80 seconds is the 10m speed time for Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez respectively.
Meanwhile, 70 centimetres is the vertical jump measurement record held by Misbahul Haq. This might not sound extremely impressive but it demonstrates a huge amount of leg power which will assist his speed. And in a World Cup to be able to chase a ball down before the boundary or to turn and run a second and make it home could mean the difference between a quarter-final loss or a place in the semi-finals. Misbah is able to do this repetitively as a result of his exceptional power.
12.5 is Younus Khan’s Beep Test score. The Beep Test is a multi-stage test of a player’s aerobic endurance. Younus was a player who could seemingly run forever. Be it during training sessions at high altitude in Johannesburg or in the extreme heat and humidity of the subcontinent, Younus has amazing aerobic fitness levels. When his mind gets in the groove his body can handle just about anything.
122.5kg is the Back Squat personal best for Kamran Akmal. As a wicket-keeper this sort of leg strength is vital to allow him to be in the crouched position and to react to balls delivered way down the leg side or to be able to dive or jump for a catch or even run to the stumps after almost every delivery.
Add to this list, the likes of young brigades such as Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal. They all have the speed to burn and I would like to think that we can feel safe knowing that these guys are quick and capable of the grunt work to score over 300 runs.
Let’s hope all this falls into place for the crunch matches and come into use when it matters the most.
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