Four fall foul of Pakistan’s new fitness crackdown

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 00:15 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters:Four Pakistan international cricketers have been docked part of their salaries in a crackdown on fitness standards, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed on Tuesday. The PCB has penalised Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal, Abdul Rehman and Hasan Reza for failing to reach the levels of fitness required under their contracts. “Yes we have started this process and in the initial stage Afridi, Akmal, Rehman and Reza Hasan will have 25 percent of their monthly salaries deducted as a penalty,” the PCB’s media manager, Agha Akbar, told Reuters. He said the board had also introduced a system of rewarding those players who excelled in the fitness tests. “In the first stage Shaan Masood and Umar Amin will get a 17.5 percent increase in their salaries for four months as an incentive, while national team captain Misbah-ul-Haq, Bilawal Bhutto and Ahmed Shehzad have also been given a 10 percent increase for working hard on their fitness,” he said. The PCB organised a month-long fitness camp in Lahore in June, after which players were given specific targets. In further tests in early September, four national team players failed to meet the required targets, according to Akbar. Contracted players in the top payment category, which includes Afridi and Misbah, currently receive around $4,200 a month from the board. Pakistan are down in sixth place in the ICC’s test rankings and Waqar Younis, the team’s head coach, admits they no longer have the individual bowling firepower to win matches single-handedly. The former fast bowler and test captain, who took more than 800 international wickets, says bowlers will need to workas a unit to win matches in future. “The days of Wasim (Akram), Waqar, Shoaib Akhtar, Saqlain or Asif are gone. We don’t have individuals now who can win matches on their own like we did in the past,” he said on the Geo Super sports channel.” Waqar said he was satisfied with the current Pakistan bowlers, whom he described as capable, but he added: “They will now have to work as a unit to win matches. They will have to make use of modern technology.” Waqar said the suspension of top off-spinner Saeed Ajmal for an illegal action could prove a blessing in disguise. “With the World Cup round the corner, it is an opportunity for younger bowlers to take Ajmal’s place,” he said. “Secondly I think in his absence senior players like Muhammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi have to take more responsibility.”