Shape up or ship out, says Waller

HARARE - Andy Waller has always been known to be a fitness freak even back in his playing days and it seems nothing has changed about the newly-appointed Zimbabwe cricket coach.

The former Zimbabwe batsman has insisted that no cricketer will represent the country during his reign if they fail the mandatory fitness test which is conducted before a series.

Last year, captain Brendan Taylor failed a fitness test but was allowed to fly out to Sri Lanka with the rest of the team for the ICC Twenty20 world Cup.

Waller, however, wants to cultivate a fitness regime in the side where everyone is expected to satisfy his requirement.

“Believe me, if you don’t pass the fitness test, you won’t make my team,” Waller told the Daily News this week.

“The players will know it, when I accepted the job, we discussed with the selectors and the board and they have agreed with me that the person that doesn’t pass, regardless of who that person is, won’t make my team.”

Zimbabwe are currently in camp preparing for the upcoming home series against India scheduled for July.

Waller has been concentrating on getting the team’s fitness levels to the required standard.

“We spent the first two weeks of our training on fitness and fielding. I believe it’s hugely important that the national side are fit. All the other guys were fit but not to the level that I wanted,” said Waller.

“I want us to be the best and fittest side in international cricket.”

Waller has since engaged the services of fitness expert Tom Summers, who works with English County side Yorkshire, following the resignation of fitness trainer Lorraine Chivandire.

Summers is expected in the country Friday and will work with the team for five days. The Englishman will return to the country periodically to check on the progress of the players.

Summers is expected to conduct individual tests on all the players when he arrives.

“We don’t have strength and conditioning coach at the moment and I’m getting advice from Summers,” said Waller.

“The guys are looking great, the attitude has been brilliant. It’s starting to pay dividends and I think it will show against India in the coming series.”

Waller has been impressed with the way the players have responded to his methods since getting into camp on May 27.

“I’m very excited with what I have seen. First of all, the attitude of the guys going through the two weeks of fitness has been exceptional,” he said.

“As far as ability-wise is concerned, I honestly believe I got 24 players here that can play international cricket and that to me is very encouraging.

“There’s competition now for everyone in the team, whereas before I’m not sure there was. Every person knows there are one or two guys on the side-lines waiting to take their place, so that’s very encouraging for me.”

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