Pak team fitness was the lowest priority for Babar, coach Arthur: Hafeez

Hafeez said that when he checked the body fat percentage and endurance levels of the players, it was way below the international cricket standards.
Former Pakistan cricket director Muhammad Hafeez
Former Pakistan cricket director Muhammad Hafeez(Photo | X @TheRealPCB)

KARACHI: Former Pakistan cricket director Muhammad Hafeez has claimed that ex-captain, Babar Azam and foreign coaches Mickey Arthur and Grant Bradburn had given team fitness lowest priority in the lead-up to the ODI World Cup in India.

Pakistan, under then-skipper Babar, had failed to make it to the semifinal knockout round, losing five of the nine league games and finishing fifth.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) recently did not renew Hafeez's contract following disastrous tours of Australia and New Zealand.

Hafeez was made team director in late 2023 after Pakistan's abysmal show in the World Cup. Soon after he took charge, Pakistan were whitewashed in the three-Test series down under, while they lost the five-match T20I series against the Kiwis 4-1.

"When I took over as director (in 2023) and we reached Australia, I told the team trainer to give me a report on the players' fitness standards and prepare a new fitness regimen," said Hafeez.

"He told me that the former captain (Babar) and head coach (Arthur) had told him six months ago that fitness is not the priority at the moment and let the players play as they wanted," Hafeez revealed on the ARY sports channel.

"This was shocking news for me when he (team trainer) told me that he was told to not check the players fitness," added Hafeez.

Hafeez said that when he checked the body fat percentage and endurance levels of the players, it was way below the international cricket standards.

"Fitness in modern-day cricket is top priority for all teams."

Hafeez alleged that when tests were carried out on some players in Australia, they couldn't even finish a two-km run.

"The players' skin fold (body fat level) was one-and-a-half points above the normal limit," he alleged.

Former Test captain, Azhar Ali, who was also one of the experts on the TV show, recalled that when Pakistan had gone for the Champions Trophy in England in 2017, fitness was given top priority, so much so that the coaching staff sent a player (Umar Akmal) back because he had failed a fitness test.

Arthur was the head coach of the team that won the Champions Trophy beating India in the final.

Hafeez also said that it took him three months to convince Babar Azam to leave his opening slot and bat at number 3 in T20 cricket.

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