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Fitness first


HAYDN GILL

Fitness first

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THE BAR for fitness levels among West Indies cricketers is about to be raised.
The first step towards the move was implemented during the ongoing camp ahead of the forthcoming tour of Sri Lanka with a series of fitness assessments for the 15-man squad.
Head coach Ottis Gibson reported no concerns after the exercise at the 3Ws Oval, but the intention improvement before the next assessment early in the new year.
“The idea about the fitness assessment is to get a gauge as to where the players are at the moment. What we will do is structure a programme for the next batch of assessments which is going to be in January,” Gibson said.
“It wasn’t a question of people passing or failing at this stage.
We’re not going to move from being reasonably fit in the space of a month, but we want to gear a programme to increase fitness levels.
“The fitness assessments went very well. The players who did the testing got good value out of it.
You might think you are fit but to do an assessment or test that shows something different.”
The camp continued yesterday with a full work out and the players will start heading out to Sri Lanka tomorrow for the tour that includes three Tests, five One-Day Internationals and one Twenty20 International.
It will be the first time that new captain Darren Sammy will be at the helm of the team and Gibson said the St Lucian all-rounder had quickly settled into the position.
“He’s been always somebody that has looked after his own game. As captain now, he has to manage his game but also manage the environment around the team in terms of dealing with other players and making sure that everybody is starting to form relationships with everybody else,” the coach said.
“He’s a friendly, easygoing person. He’s always approachable and easy to talk to. He’s had a good rapport with the players before.
“Now that he is leader, he will need to call on all the friendships he has had in the team before. My job and the rest of the management team is to support him and make sure that the whole team is as smooth as possible.”
Sammy has been thrust into the position of captaincy after the West Indies Cricket Board overlooked Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo for leadership roles weeks after they declined one-year central retainer contracts.
Gayle and Bravo, however, have made themselves available for selection and have displayed commitment and enthusiasm at the camp.
“Bravo is a bundle of energy anywhere. He’s been his normal self.
We don’t expect there are going to be any issues with regards to that,” Gibson said.
“Decisions have to be made and decisions were made. We’ve moved on. From what I’ve seen, those guys are fully on board with what is going on.”
In what has been described as a rebuilding period, the West Indies are taking a squad that includes several seasoned players and a few fledgling cricketers.
Among the inexperienced brigade are the uncapped Antiguan wicket-keeper/batsman Devon Thomas and Jamaican fast bowling all-rounder Andre Russell, who have gained high praise from Gibson.
“Russell is picked on bags and bags of potential. He’s come here and fitted in well. He is enjoying himself,” the coach said.
“Young Thomas is the same. He’s a little bit of a workaholic which is not a bad thing at all. Sometimes we have to tell him that’s enough now and stuff like that, but I like his enthusiasm for the game.
“I hope that as he goes through his journey into international cricket, that doesn’t dwindle. The sky is the limit for him.”

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