Veteran cricket commentator Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira says the exclusion of Shimron Hetmeyer and Evin Lewis from the West Indies One Day International (ODI) squad for the three-match ODI series in Sri Lanka later this month should send a strong warning to the two young batsmen that fitness is a key aspect in the life of a professional cricketer.
Hetmeyer and Lewis were omitted from the team which was announced yesterday after failing to attain the new minimum standard fitness. The two left-handed batsmen have had contrasting forms at the crease in their recent ODIs.
Hetmeyer, 23, accumulated just 194 runs, including one century in his last five ODIs, while the 28-year-old Lewis scored 259 runs and a century in a similar number of matches. In his last three ODI matches against Ireland last month, the dashing left-handed opener had scores of 99 not out, seven and 102.
In a press release issued yesterday, lead selector of Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) selection panel Roger Harper said Hetmeyer and Lewis were dropped because they came up short in their fitness tests.
“They will be missed, Lewis was the team’s best batsman in the recent Colonial Medical Insurance ODI Series against Ireland where he batted with great composure and proved the bedrock for the team’s series win. Hetmeyer appeared to be getting his act together and was an integral part of the team’s batting group,” Harper said.
Perreira pointed out that while anyone receiving money for their services is likely to be called a professional, Hetmeyer and Lewis should have been aware that fitness is a major part in the life of a professional cricketer.
“I think Hetmeyer and Lewis seemed not to understand that fitness is a key aspect of what being a professional sportsman is about. Too many of our cricketers seem to have the view that all they need is talent and to get paid and they are a professional cricketer, which is not really the case in the world of professional cricket. Being a professional cricketer means being fit, having a proper training routine and eating the right foods,” Perreria told Barbados TODAY.
He lamented that neither Hetmeyer nor Lewis showed the discipline, the understanding, or the professionalism required to play the game at the highest level.
“In my view they have fallen short of doing the hard work that is mandatory to compete in professional sports,” Perreira noted.
“Hetmeyer and Lewis were extremely unprofessional in their attitudes toward cricket, to reach the stage where they were omitted from the squad for the tour to Sri Lanka because of their failure to pass a fitness test. These are two young men who earn their living from playing cricket. They represent the West Indies internationally and also play in the Indian Premier League and other Twenty20 leagues around the world, therefore the two of them ought to be aware of the impact fitness has on their careers.”
While Perreira is of the firm belief that Hetmeyer and Lewis should take the blame for failing the fitness test, he thinks that coaches must be observant and give a stern warning to cricketers about their fitness, especially when it is obvious that a player is gaining weight.
“In the case of Hetmeyer, it was noticeable to everyone that his girth had expanded over the last couple of years. I wonder if any member of the coaching staff of CWI spoke to him about his increase in weight. Sometimes a scolding by a member of the team’s management might be enough to stop a crisis from developing,” Perreira said.
He suggested that now Hetmeyer and Lewis have been left out of the West Indies squad, their first priority should be to make themselves available to play for the Guyana Jaguars and the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force respectively in the Regional Four Day Competition.
“Playing in the four-day competition will demonstrate to all and sundry that Hetmeyer and Lewis have the desire to play cricket. They must also put in the hard work that is required to get them fit, whether it be in the gym or running on the tracks at a stadium. I hope Lewis and Hetmeyer will learn from this experience of being dropped from the team and that it is a wakeup call for them.
“Maybe when the next fitness test is done, which will probably be in May before the team is selected to go to England in June, they will be among the fittest members in the West Indies,” Perreira concluded.