Cricket: England put through their paces

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The Independent Online
England's management want fitness levels improved for the national team and throughout domestic cricket.

The coach, David Lloyd, is putting Mike Atherton's squad through a demanding week of training in southern Portugal in preparation for this winter's tour of Zimbabwe and New Zealand which starts on 25 November.

And yesterday, on day three of their sweat-and-grind routines in Val de Lobo, Lloyd said: "It's fitness all the way this week - there's no cricket involved. I want us to get to Zimbabwe in a few weeks' time in great shape and then we will get down to the cricket.

"I think we can be fitter generally and some national sides have definitely been fitter than us. I am also hoping to get every county to implement similar fitness schemes so that every player in the country knows what is expected. I want to know about players' fitness when it comes to selection meetings."

Leeds Rugby League club's physiotherapist, Dean Riddle, has been helping out with the fitness training and assessments of Atherton's 15-man winter squad. He said yesterday: "Some of the guys were good when we started out but there was a lot of range between those at the top and those at the bottom.

"We are concentrating on general fitness at first, but also treating everyone as an individual and giving them their own personal targets."

Lloyd added: "The key to our work here is to improve the explosive nature of the players' fitness. Cricket, despite what some people say, is an explosive game. I want a fit team and I am going to get a fit team.

"We will be able to keep a level of performance for longer if we are fitter - and that can only improve our cricket performance for instance, when someone makes a brilliant stop or takes a brilliant catch late in the day."