West Indies' limited overs format captain Kieron Pollard spoke about the poor state of fitness amongst the players in their squad. The 34-year-old stressed the importance of remaining fit, especially during in-between tours.
The Caribbean have been struggling a lot on the fitness front as of late. Sunil Narine's exclusion, despite a stellar IPL campaign, has reportedly been attributed to poor fitness.
Explosive batter Shimron Hetmyer was left out by the selection committee for the upcoming series against Ireland and England. He failed to meet the fitness standards set by the team and was called out by the national coach as well.
Outlining the fitness issue as one that has been plaguing the team for the past couple of years, Pollard said to ESPN Cricinfo:
"It has been an issue that has been plaguing us for the last couple of years.One way to look at it is, the selection policy, the fitness policies are there. Guys know exactly what is needed to represent the West Indian team. Sometimes, as individuals, we take it for granted. Yes, sometimes it hinders the process of selecting the best players at the given available time."
"I will also say that it's an individual thing, they are supposed to pride themselves on being fit, performing and doing what is necessary for the team. When these things tend to happen, as an individual, I am sure it doesn't bode well to us too. Again, this is something I take very personally - fitness - and me being not able to participate because of injury - because that doesn't go too well with myself."
Pollard was not part of the West Indies squad that toured Pakistan for the limited overs series. Following a poor set of results on the tour that was cut short, the veteran is back in the squad to lead the team for the contests against England and Ireland. He suffered a hamstring injury at the T20 World Cup in the UAE.
The most I could do is try to make the guys understand the importance of fitness: Kieron Pollard
Pollard attributed the events due to the pandemic as a factor, but still expects better from his teammates. He feels that the players often slack off after the culmination of a tour, and work on fitness has to be done from scratch in the subsequent tour. Pollard added:
"For me, as an individual, the most I could do is try to make the guys understand the importance of fitness. When we are on tour, I can safely say there is no issue as to when the guys have to do their stuff in terms of what is required for the team and when they have to train in schedules."
"We tend to have these conversations, but I think the difficult part is when the guys leave from tour with responsibilities and with instructions and, sometimes, they don't follow it. And then they come back on tour and they start from ground zero."
West Indies will compete against Ireland in a three-match ODI series and a one-off T20I, beginning today (January 8). The team will then host England for a five-match T20I series before touring India.