Sun | Jan 23, 2022

Pollard talks up fitness for Windies players

Published:Thursday | January 13, 2022 | 12:10 AM
West Indies captain Kieron Pollard.
West Indies captain Kieron Pollard.

KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC):

WEST INDIES white-ball skipper, Kieron Pollard, has pointed to fitness as a critical part of professionalism and says players need to “pride themselves” on keeping pace with the demands of international cricket.

Fitness standards have emerged as one of the major talking points in the selection of West Indies squads recently, with key players being overlooked after failing to meet Cricket West Indies’ requirements.

Left-hander Shimron Hetmyer, the Caribbean side’s leading batsman at last year’s Twenty20 World Cup, was ruled out of this month’s series against Ireland and England after failing to meet CWI’s fitness standards.

“This is an individual thing. As an individual and a professional, you’re supposed to pride yourself on being fit, pride yourself on performance, and pride yourself on doing what is necessary for the team, and when these things tend to happen, I’m sure it doesn’t bode well with yourself,” Pollard said.

“It is something that I take very personally, and that is my fitness, and me not being able to participate in a tour because of it or injury, that doesn’t go down too well with myself.

“So hence the reason I got the opportunity to work on myself and, hopefully, I will be able to stay on the park as an individual because I pride myself on that.”

For Hetmyer, it is the third time in the last two years that he has been ruled out of selection due to lack of fitness after missing the tour of Sri Lanka in 2020 and Sri Lanka’s tour of the Caribbean last year for the same reason.

The 25-year-old opted out of last December’s tour of Pakistan for personal reasons, and the latest disappointment is yet another blow to a promising career.

Head coach Phil Simmons last week described Hetmyer’s fitness troubles as “heart-wrenching”, noting that the Guyanese was “letting down himself and his teammates”, and Pollard conceded that the issue had been complicating selection.

“It has been a topical sort of issue that has been plaguing us over the last couple years or so,” Pollard explained.

TAKEN FOR GRANTED

“It is one where I see as an individual choice. The selection policy is there, the fitness policy is there. Guys know exactly what is needed for [them] as individuals to represent the Caribbean team, and sometimes as individuals we tend to take things for granted.

“Yes, sometimes it has sort of hindered the process of selecting the best available team at any given time and so have other different things like the pandemic.

“But yes, fitness has been one of the topical issues that has affected us in trying to put our best team on the park more often than not. Sometimes it’s frustrating because sometimes you want to have guys fit and available to represent the regional team.”

Pollard was ruled out of the Pakistan tour with injury but has recovered to lead West Indies in the upcoming assignments.

“I’ve gotten five or six weeks or so of proper training – physiotherapy, rehab. [I] did some work behind the scenes and obviously looking forward to this series. So I’m fit and ready to go.”