KARACHI: Seven Pakistan cricketers, including the out-of-favour former captain Mohammad Yousuf and wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal, took part in the second phase of the fitness tests at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore as coach Dav Whatmore continued to monitor players.
Aizaz Cheema, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Irfan and Sohail Tanvir were the other players who took part yesterday.
The coaching panel, which also includes fielding coach Julien Fountain, launched the tests in order to bring about improvement in the players’ fitness levels. According to officials close to the selection committee, the tests will also help the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) get a clear idea about the players as the selectors looked to form separate teams for all three formats.
However, it remains to be seen whether this plan will be implemented in time for the tour of Sri Lanka, the squad for which will be named in the first week of May.
“The main purpose of the tests is to check and expand the bench strength,” the PCB director Intikhab Alam told The Express Tribune. “Whatmore will have clear idea about the players by conducting their fitness tests. But forming separate teams for Sri Lanka tour is not confirmed and depends on the selectors.”
Yousuf keen to impress
With high hopes of making a comeback, former captain Yousuf has been practising twice a day, perhaps to knit a happy ending to his cricket career and a shot at a farewell opportunity.
“I’ve been practising twice a day to get back into form,” Yousuf told The Express Tribune. “I want to play for Pakistan again and that’s why I’m putting in a huge effort during training. Only time will tell what happens in the future but I’m doing what I can.”
The 37-year-old has been overlooked since the infamous Lord’s Test against England in 2010 after being a late entry to Pakistan’s squad.
The selection committee, meanwhile, feels that Yousuf needs to get back into domestic cricket and prove his form and fitness there.
“He hasn’t gone through the required process so it’s difficult for us to select him,” said a selector while ruling out his inclusion for the tour of Sri Lanka. “He needs to prove it with his bat and that he still has what it takes to perform in international cricket.”
He added that it will be the selection committee’s decision to include or exclude any player but Yousuf, for the time being, looks a doubtful selection.
Fitness to ascertain central contracts list
With the central contracts for the year yet to be handed out, Intikhab Alam has confirmed that the delay is
due to the fitness tests as the PCB wants to confirm things before giving out the new list.
The last set of contracts expired on December 31, 2011 and a subsequent list is yet to be released, delayed in part due to the change in the selection committee following the resignation of Mohammad Illyas as chief selector.
The announcement was further delayed after a committee headed by Alam was formed to recommend names.
“The contracts will be announced after the process of assessing players,” Alam told The Express Tribune. “Right now the players are undergoing fitness tests and once the assessment is over, the new list will be released.”
Meanwhile, Alam added that efforts were being made to appoint a bowling coach before the Sri Lanka tour.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2012.
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