Pakistan news September 23, 2014

Afridi, Umar Akmal among players penalised for poor fitness

Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi will get pay-cuts for a four-month period © AFP

Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal, Abdur Rehman and Raza Hasan are the four big names among the Pakistan players found to be below their optimum level of fitness by the PCB. They will each have 25% of their monthly retainer docked for four months, starting with August's fee. At the end of the four-month period, they can have their fitness reassessed.

The PCB had attached greater importance to fitness in its new contracts handed out to the players. The board had said this month that it was mulling handing out fines to players who failed to keep the fitness levels prescribed to them by the National Cricket Academy during a month-long camp in Lahore in May-June.

An assessment of 29 players' fitness was carried out between September 6 and 8, but three players had failed to report for that evaluation due to personal reasons. Among them was Afridi, but he has since had the assessment. Wahab Riaz and Nasir Jamshed are yet to do so and, in their cases, it will have to wait until they are back from Lahore Lions' Champions League T20 campaign in India.

Five players, meanwhile, were given bonuses for maintaining peak fitness. Shan Masood and Umar Amin will get a bonus of 17.5% every month for the four-month period, while Misbah-ul-Haq, Ahmed Shehzad and Bilawal Bhatti will get 10%.

According to the 2014 contract offered by the PCB, the new physiological screening protocol has been divided into five levels and a player has to undergo 17 different tests to be assessed for fitness. Each component is given 100 points. Level 1, also called the fundamental level, has marks between 0 to 20 and it is considered unacceptable for a player's assessment to fall within the bracket in which he will receive zero marks. All 29 players have achieved at least the basic fitness level.

The fitness test conducted in May 2014 was considered as a benchmark for the players. The PCB will conduct another round of tests in December 2014 before determining the new list of players for the 2015 central contracts.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

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