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Cricket West Indies lead selector Desmond Haynes and director of cricket Jimmy Adams have criticised West Indies' players for falling to meet "even minimum fitness standards". Adams warned that there were contractual consequences for players who fell below the mark, while Haynes said he was "pretty disappointed" at players who hadn't met the criteria.
"When you look at the amount of cricket being played around the world, there's a certain level of fitness that is required," Haynes said. "I think that is a standard that you should set as a professional cricketer. I do get concerned when you are selecting a side not sure if these guys are going to be fit enough to finish the tour. As a professional cricketer, there's a level of fitness that is required, and all players should try to reach that."
The comments came after West Indies announced their ODI squads for the upcoming tours of the Netherlands and Pakistan. While Jason Holder and Shimron Hetmyer were also absent from the squad, it was Evin Lewis' non-selection that raised eyebrows, with CWI saying he was not considered because he failed to meet fitness criteria. Hetmyer, who has also had fitness issues in the past, was given a break and allowed to go home for the birth of his first child.
"For contracted players who are unavailable for fitness, there are consequences that are outlined in the contracts," Adams said. "We have players who, in our eyes are good enough to be considered for selection who are unavailable because of not even coming in on minimum fitness standards. That is very disappointing. For players who are contracted, that is doubly disappointing.
"It means we would have made an investment in them going back a year, and we have nothing to show for that investment. It is something that is concerning to us, and something we have to think very seriously about when we go into the next cycle of contract discussions. I can't say enough how much we consider this a letdown, not just for the individual, but for the region."
Adams echoed a similar message, saying that while support was available, the responsibility ultimately fell on the shoulders of the individual.
"It begins with the player," he said. "There's always support that a player needs. All of that support can be given, but in a lot of fitness cases we've seen in the recent past, the players - if they were being honest - would say they'd let themselves down. We want to compete with the best in the world, and we want our players to go out on any cricket field anywhere in the world and know that they're equals.
"This is one area we've worked very hard on over the last few years and we'll continue to keep moving the bar upwards. We believe this is something that doesn't require as much resource as other areas that players need to improve upon to become world-class."
Haynes lauded Pollard's contribution, expressing confidence that West Indies had the quality to cope without him, and threw his weight behind the new white-ball captain Nicholas Pooran.
"When you look at Pollard's contribution both on and off the field, it isn't something you can say we are going to take lightly. I think he'll be missed, but you've got a lot of guys who are playing in the middle there, and a lot of allrounders. Yes, he'll be missed, but I think we've got enough there that can do the job for us.
"To play cricket for West Indies is the ultimate. This is a good opportunity for the youngsters to show their worth. I hope they take advantage of it. Nicholas Pooran, you've seen how he's handled himself in the games that he has captained West Indies, and the way he's carried himself in the IPL. I'm sure he'll do a good job leading these young men."