Following intense criticism about poor fitness standards of Sri Lanka’s cricketers, they will be given a tough trial in order to be eligible for selections for the upcoming tour of the Caribbean. All players shortlisted for the tour – 35 of them – will have to do a two kilometer run in eight minutes and 35 seconds.
The test recommended by new trainer Grant Luden is feared by many in cricket circles and someone with knowledge on fitness standards of players told The Island that some senior players including a couple of former captains will be well below par. He added that if the coaching staff walked the talk, several players would be dropped for West Indies on fitness.
Although Sri Lanka’s training sessions usually take place at RPS where SLC coaching staff is housed, for the fitness test on the 5th of February, the players will be called up to Sugathadasa Stadium. Now some of you who have taken part in your school sports meet track events are familiar with that track. To pass the test, the players have to run five rounds in less than 8 minutes and 35 seconds.
Inside sources said that some leading cricketers took nine minutes to finish the run while others took nine minutes and 30 seconds with one player going beyond ten minutes. The source added that half the team that played the second Test against England in Galle would fail the test.
Luden who has previous work experience with the Pakistan team is supposed to be a tough trainer. His original standards for the two kilometer run is supposed to be eight minutes for batsmen and seven minutes and 30 seconds for fast bowlers and he is expected to introduce these measures by mid this year.
Ahead of the tour of West Indies, Sri Lanka are expected to introduce a new fitness policy whereby if a player fails the fitness test, he has 40 days to pass for a second time. If he fails the second test then he will be unavailable for selections.
Some seven one day cricketers failed the fitness test a fortnight ago and young Avishka Fernando was the biggest disappointment having failed the test twice inside a week.
The two kilometer run is followed by other countries as well like in India and Australia. Someone who is familiar with fitness training told The Island that India had introduced the method to the national team after it was put in place at domestic level initially.
He also added that it was unfair to expect players to get over the line in the first instance itself and they should be given adequate time to work on the standards. However, a former player disagreed and said that professional sportsmen are expected to maintain high standards of physical fitness always.