Don't do a Samit: How to avoid getting dropped
You have to feel a bit for Samit Patel. He was dropped from the England squad because of "a failure to reach an acceptable level of fitness". International cricket has realised the game requires athletes who are cricketers, not just cricketers.
It's not just the international game though. The fitter you are the better you can perform at any level: lower injury risk, more speed, more power, and better fielding skills.
Up until a few years ago a bit of extra weight would not have been a problem. Its runs and wickets that count they said. Even now the club game is littered with chunky cricketers who churn out the results on Saturday afternoons week after week.
The growth of Twenty20 has begun to focus the mind on physical performance. When every ball becomes an event and every run can make the difference between a win and a loss your fitness takes on a lot more importance. A diving stop that saves a boundary requires fitness. A stolen quick single requires fitness.
Despite some notable exceptions, fitter players are now more likely to be selected than less fit ones. This even happens at club and grade cricket. In tight selection decisions more athletic players have the edge.
We can also learn another lesson from Samit's omission. Cricket is often a subjective game. It's hard to compare one player with another even when looking at averages. However, your fitness level is objective. You can only bench press as much as you can bench press. You can only run as fast as you can run.
Samit was tested and was found wanting in an objective measure. The more unfit you are, the more you risk losing an opportunity like Samit did to play at a higher level.
How to avoid Samit's mistakes
Cricket fitness is easy to achieve. Putting in some effort is not only good for your on field performance; it will help reduce your chances of getting dropped and increase your chances of moving up the standards.
As Samit has shown us, it's no longer enough to play cricket to get cricket fit. Here are some extra things you (and Samit) can do to get fitter, stronger, faster and healthier:
- Set a goal. When it comes to fitness you can only work towards 1 or 2 things at a time. Decide what they are going to be and work out a way of measuring them. If you want to get faster for example, time yourself over a 40m sprint.
- Get expert advice. Once you know your goal, seek advice from a fitness expert on how to get there. You could join a gym, get a personal trainer or look at Glamorgan S&C Coach Rob Ahmun's course on PitchVision Academy.
- Stick with it. You can get fitter in 3 sessions a week with the right training. However, you can only improve if you stick with it. Everyone finds it hard to be motivated from time to time so learn the tricks you can play on yourself to back yourself into a corner and give you no choice but to exercise.
If you look for it you can find plenty of examples of successful overweight cricketers. If you perform on the pitch while being a bit chunky at your level you will probably get away with it. However, if you have ambitions to move up why would you take the risk?