Guwahati, Oct. 9: With several senior cricketers of the state cooling their heels or demoted to age group probables this season owing to alleged poor fitness, a section of cricketers has questioned the fitness of the outstation professionals, two of whom are yet to join the ongoing Ranji trials.
Wishing not to be quoted, one of the senior players alleged that Dheeraj Jadhav, albeit being one of the leading scorers for Assam last season, had to skip a couple of matches for fitness issues.
Another player questioned if Neeraj Patel’s fitness was tested before being named a proabable for the season ahead.
Though no one was ready to be quoted, more players, some of them in the reckoning for the Ranji squad, had similar questions about the yardstick for fitness. The questions find more weight after all-rounder Dhiraj Goswami was dropped as a Ranji probable and left-arm spinner Deepak Gohain and top order batsman Amit Sinha pushed to the list of under-25 probables.
Though fitness was not officially cited as the reason some of the players had to undergo rigorous fitness tests during the off-season this time. When contacted by The Telegraph, Assam Cricket Association secretary Bikash Baruah admitted that a number of players, who are among the probables, were still reported to be somewhat unfit.
“This is a result of keeping quiet after a section of the media went after me, accusing me of abusing players. There was a time when we had qualified for the elite group in Ranji Trophy and that year we had an absolutely fit team. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but it was my personal initiative to join the players at the gym every morning throughout that year. I would even call up players personally to join the fitness drills every day,” said Baruah.
“Now, I have stopped doing all those. I am told a number of players have deviated totally from all the set rules of a cricketer and some of them are facing the consequences themselves. I have nothing to lose,” he added.