Fitness is non-negotiable, says CWI Director of Cricket

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By Akeem Greene

Eyebrows were raised on Monday over the omission of West Indies One-Day International batsmen Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer for the tour to Sri Lanka after they reportedly failed to meet the new minimum fitness standard.

Between the ODIs and T20Is, a total of six matches, Lewis scored 309 runs, with three scores over 50, including an unbeaten 99 and 102.

Hetmyer had a lean Ireland series, but previously cracked a match-winning 139 against India in December.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) Director of Cricket, Jimmy Adams said irrespective of how productive a player is regarding on-field performances, fitness must go hand-in-hand if they are to play international cricket.

Adams was at the time addressing media operatives in Guyana.

“It is non-negotiable; it goes hand in hand. One of the examples that I use to remind people is that the whole issue of getting fitter players is to reduce injury on field and this one of the areas we have suffered from in the past.”

“We had young John Campbell who went to Ireland and was not in the fittest state at the time, he gets a hundred in the first game and then physically can’t complete rest of the series because (of) not being where he should be.”

West Indies players at a training session

According to Adams, in September 2018 the board decided to tie selection policy with fitness, but it took a while to take full effect due to change in coaches and selection panels. However, with the Roger Harper led selection committee taking charge in October 2019, everyone was keen to fully implement the policy.

The Jamaican disclosed the players had expected the policy to be implemented sooner, but CWI wanted greater transparency.

“The lads unfortunately have not met the minimum standard, so hopefully we can get them up to that standard as quickly as possible. We can’t afford to have our best players not being on the park because they are not at accepted fitness levels. I am looking forward for these lads correcting that in the near future and getting fitness levels up to where it should be and out of that making sure we can keep them on the park for longer than we have been able to do in the past.”

The former West Indies captain further clarified the required minimum standard is that of 40 on the Yo-Yo test. The Yo-Yo test is a maximal aerobic endurance fitness test, involving running between markers placed 20 meters apart, at increasing speeds, until exhaustion.

“That [Yo-Yo test] has been in place for quite a while and the players have known about it. It is something that has even be implemented at franchise level. It came down to the franchise level at their last fitness test that we had in the Caribbean and they were measures for those who failed that test.” He added most players in the Caribbean are statistically above the minimum standard.

According to CWI chief executive Johnny Grave, Lewis and Hetmyer could return in time for the T20 series if they manage to pass upcoming re-tests.

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