Sharjah: A boot camp with a team of army instructors has been a major factor behind the refreshingly new attitude of Pakistani cricketers in recent times, according to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, an Emirates based media reported on Friday.
Barring a few individuals, Pakistani cricketers in the past would struggle to get past stringent fitness tests. The scenario, however, has changed. “The fitness camp under the army’s supervision paid huge dividends,” Sarfraz said in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times on Friday at the Sharjah Stadium, where Pakistan play their third Test against the West Indies from Sunday.
“Our fitness standards have improved unbelievably,” the Pakistani T20 skipper said.
To justify his statement Sarfraz said that the team successfully completed a 50-day tour of England (July 14-Sept 7, 2016) without having to deal with injuries to any of their players.
“We salute our army instructors for their efforts that have completely changed our lifestyle.
“Now my lifestyle is like an army man’s – I give special importance to my diet, I sleep on time and I am strict with my training schedule. It has also helped me improve my game,” added Sarfraz who has emerged as a key player for the Pakistan team.
Besides the improved fitness levels, the team’s confidence levels too have gone up in recent times.
“Confidence is the main thing for a player. In the past I wasn’t sure of my place in the team but Moin Khan (the then chief selector) helped me overcome my insecurities about my place in the team. I was a confident player after that,” the Karachi player said.
“Now I have confidence in my own ability as I don’t worry about my place in the team any more,” he said.
But the unassuming lad admitted that he still feels nervous when he goes out to bat. “Yes, you do get nervous, but the ‘butterflies’ vanish the moment I step on to the field and look at the sun to adjust my eyes to the light outside,” he smiled.
Many former players not only see Sarfraz as a future ODI captain, but they also want him to take over the Test team once Misbah-ul Haq hangs up his boots.
I believe there should be a strong bond between a captain and his players. If that doesn’t happen, a captain’s job becomes difficult,” the Pakistan T20 skipper said.
Sarfraz says he seeks inspiration from Misbah.
“Every captain has his own way of working but I like the way Misbah handles the team. He believes in consultation and never tries to impose his own ideas on the team,” he said.
After having secured an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three Test series against the West Indies, Sarfraz says Pakistan now want to complete a hat-trick of clean sweeps.
“It has been a wonderful performance from the team and we will go for the kill in the final Test in Sharjah. Yes, we have won the series already but we would love to go for the hat-trick of clean sweeps,” he said, referring to Pakistan’s complete dominance in the T20s and ODIs before the Test series in the UAE.