Pakistan cricketers getting trained — the Army way

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When in Rome do as the Romans do. Pakistani cricketers are abiding by this golden rule as they attend a training camp at a military base in Abbottabad.

Not particularly known for their good discipline, the players have to strictly follow the timetable for lunches and dinners at the Military Physical Training Centre’s officers’ mess where they also have to turn up formally dressed.

“There is a strict dress code at the mess and everybody including the players has to follow it,” team manager Talat Ali told ‘The News’ in an interview on Monday. “It is really good to see the cricketers turning up for their meals at the given time, immaculately dressed,” added the former Test cricketer, who is supervising the 15-day exercise aimed at helping Pakistan’s injury-prone cricketers to get in shape for a demanding international season.

The manager said that there are strict rules and regulations at the centre but added that some of them have been relaxed for the sake of the national cricketers. “But the Army officers here are very particular about the dress code. They have told us that the players have to show up smartly dressed,” he explained.

Talat said that the best part of the story is that all the players are ‘enjoying this new regimental routine’. “The cricketers are really happy with the sort of physical training they are receiving from a team of Army trainers,” said Talat. “The boys have told me that such training drills are new for them and they’ve really welcomed it,” he added.

Even Shoaib Akhtar, the ‘bad boy’ of Pakistan cricket, is having fun. “I’m really pleased at the way Shoaib is enjoying himself here. He is working hard on his fitness and I’m sure he would be in full flow soon,” said Talat.

Shoaib, 31, is set to make his international return in a one-dayer against India in Glasgow on July 1. He hasn’t played any competitive cricket since limping out of the second Test against South Africa in January with a knee problem.

The fast bowler is among the 20 players who were invited by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to attend the training camp in Abbottabad — an exercise that is the start of a campaign aimed at making the cricketers fully fit.

Talat has told the players that the camp is a great opportunity for them to improve their fitness. “Our players have to improve their fitness, there is no question about that and I’ve told them if there was ever a perfect chance for them to do it, it is now,” he said.

Talat said 18 players are currently attending fitness and nets sessions while seasoned batsman Mohammad Yousuf and medium pacer Mohammad Asif would be joining the camp on June 14. Yousuf and Asif recently turned up for Asia in the Afro-Asia Cup against Africa in the South Indian city of Chennai.

Talat said that at the end of the training camp that concludes on June 26, the cricketers would undergo fitness tests. “We have complete data on the players’ fitness taken at the last training camp in Lahore and fresh tests would help us know the sort of improvement they have achieved from this camp,” he added. Pakistan’s 14-man squad to be announced on June 16 is scheduled to leave for Glasgow by June 28.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2007 and is filed under Cricket, Cricket Stars.

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