‘Gains’ of the Kakul boot camp
Preparations for the England tour we hear are now in full swing as 30 odd players are going through the grind in an army-styled boot camp in Kakul. The camp was announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) days before hiring Mickey Arthur as the team’s head coach.
In his first media interaction with The Express Tribune, Arthur minced no words in asserting that fitness was indeed one of the major goals that the team must achieve before game plans and training methods for the tour are tabulated.
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“The boot camp will help improve chemistry between the players, when you train together really hard, you build team spirit and camaraderie and I feel it’s a really good idea,” he said. “Once I arrive, we will do a lot of planning before we leave for England. We will start technical practice after the boot camp and hopefully, the players would be in peak physical shape by then.”
Arthur expects the players to hit ‘peak physical fitness’ after the Kakul rigours, since he aims to initiate technical training and net sessions to counter the English challenge immediately after.
Boot camps have traditionally brought success to Australian and English teams — the two traditional cricket rivals have tried the practice in the past, especially as a build up to the biggest Test contest of all, Ashes.
Australia romped home to a 5-0 whitewash in 2006-7 after having surrendered the little Ashes urn to England in the epic 2005 series away from home — before the series John Buchanan the then Australian coach assembled his troops for a three-day bonding boot camp in the outback of Queensland and the results indicate that the exercise provided rich dividends.
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England had a boot camp of their own prior to the 2010-11 Ashes tour to Australia. Their hard task master Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss led the week-long session as England toppled the Aussies on home soil for the first time in nearly 25 years.
Pakistan players are going to spend some 20 days in Kakul, besides strenuous physical and mental exertion there will be various bonding exercises which Arthur and co hope helps bring the squad together.
On the flip side, the length of the improvised camp can cause exhaustion. After the boot camp the players are likely to assemble in Lahore for a short training camp before their departure for England.
Once there, a two-week conditioning or acclimatisation camp has already been planned in Hampshire. By the time Pakistan take the field for the first of their four Tests at Lord’s — July 14 — they would have spent more than two months in ‘preparations’ alone.
There is a real fear that the players might be burned out before even the first ball is bowled having spent endless training and practice sessions.
Two years ago a rigorous summer camp was held in Lahore in the searing heat of the Punjab capital.
Many of the leading players then suffered a spate of injuries as a heavy international schedule took its toll, the Kakul camp can provide a much needed fitness fill-up but must be tackled carefully with all concerned since the last thing that Pakistan cricket can afford is an injury list to handle for England and Australian tour later in the year.