The modern-day Cricket demands a Cricketer to be as fit as possible. Skill and Fitness are the two main aspects a Cricketer needs to enhance his game. With the introduction of One-Day and Twenty20 Cricket, the fitness demands for players have risen dramatically. Without skills a player cannot compete to make it to the big stage and play International Cricket, true, but fitness shouldn’t be neglected as well. Both Skill and Fitness are needed to become an acclaimed Cricketer and an Athlete, but what is more important?
Fitness undisputedly holds more importance than Skill. Fitness is integral to become a successful Cricketer. The late 1990s and 2000s Australian team, that ruled the World of Cricket for 3 consecutive World Cups, was accounted widely for its professionalism and fitness. The great Imran Khan who was the winning captain of Pakistan’s only World Cup Trophy, kept a tight fitness routine for his players, attributing to Pakistan’s success under his captaincy. Today’s Cricket needs a player in his best shape.
A very good example is Umar Akmal, an extremely talented, skillful player who has lost his place in Pakistani Cricket Team many times due to his fitness issues. Many people still regard him as one of the most talented players from Pakistan, but fitness issues have halted his International Career. He was selected for Pakistan’s ICC Champions Trophy 2017’s squad, but was sent back home due to failing two fitness tests in a row. And the same team went on to win the same trophy from which he had to go back because of fitness issues. As it shows, a great amount of fitness is required to play in the modern era and in the biggest of competitions.
A batsman needs fitness to run between the wickets; he needs fitness to clear the boundary; he needs fitness to play big shots. A bowler needs the fittest body as the risk of injury for bowlers is highest. Consequently, unfit bowlers will bowl inaccurately and will not generate muscular power to bowl. And as the saying goes, Catches win you matches, which is a part of fielding. A fielder can save 10 to 20 runs easily if he is fit. Fielders need to field 50 overs in a One-Day game (varies in each format). They have to run after the ball, take quick catches and occasionally dive to save boundaries. Only the fittest players can do all of this in the modern-day Cricket which shows the superiority of Fitness over Skill.
No one denies the contribution of skill, but Cricketers need to be fit as well. A player can use his specific skill(s) only if he is fit enough to execute it. Players like Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar (who are the fastest bowlers in Cricketing history) spent hours in gyms and training to keep themselves fit.
As the Cricket Boards realize the importance of fitness in today’s Cricket, no matter how much talent a player has, he will play in the team only if he’s fit. The PCB holds fitness tests before every tour to test the players’ fitness.
Fitness and Skill weren’t on the same page some decades ago, but today, fitness is equally important if not more to become an acclaimed Cricketer and Athlete.