Kieron Pollard, the captain of the West Indies, has been disappointed with his team’s approach to maintaining fitness standards. He went on to say that he finds it disappointing that the West Indies are unable to deploy their strongest team due to a lack of fitness.

Pollard will lead West Indies in the One-Day Internationals against Ireland after recovering from a hamstring ailment. The first One-Day International will begin on Saturday at Sabina Park.

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“It has been an issue that has been plaguing us for the last couple of years. One way to look at it is, the selection policy, the fitness policies are there. Guys know exactly what is needed to represent the West Indian team. Sometimes, as individuals, we take it for granted. Yes, sometimes it hinders the process of selecting the best players at the given available time,” Pollard said.

Shimron Hetmyer, the West Indies’ left-handed batsman, was not selected because he did not meet the requisite fitness criteria.

“Things happened during the pandemic — security reasons — all these played a factor. But fitness has been one issue that has affected us in terms of trying to put our best team and sometimes, it’s frustrating because you don’t have the guys fit and available to represent the team,” added Pollard.

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Pollard encouraged his teammates to get serious about fitness, using himself as an example, saying, “I will also say that it’s an individual thing, they are supposed to pride themselves on being fit, performing, and doing what is necessary for the team. When these things tend to happen, as an individual, I am sure it doesn’t bode well to us too.”

“Again, this is something I take very personally — fitness — and me being not able to participate because of injury — because that doesn’t go too well with myself. Hence I got an opportunity to detour and recover and hopefully, I can stay with the team because I pride myself on that,” he further explained.

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Sunil Narine was left out of the West Indies’ T20 World Cup team after failing to satisfy the minimum fitness requirements, despite playing well for Kolkata Knight Riders in the second half of the IPL 2021 in the UAE. For the time being, Pollard wants his colleagues to prioritise fitness both on and off the field.

Clarifying his stance, Pollard said, “For me, as an individual, the most I could do is try to make the guys understand the importance of fitness. When we are on tour, I can safely say there is no issue as to when the guys have to do their stuff in terms of what is required for the team and when they have to train in schedules. We tend to have these conversations, but I think the difficult part is when the guys leave from tour with responsibilities and with instructions and, sometimes, they don’t follow it.”

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“And then they come back on tour and they start from ground zero. From my perspective, I can send a message and get it posted in a group. We are supposed to be professionals and we are supposed to be adults, and supposed to pride ourselves on that,” he concluded.