Resistance training at the Kinrara Oval
Picture by Peter Lim

Malaysia's cricketers have been training like never before as they prepare for the Incheon Asian Games and Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 3. "There is an amazing level of commitment form the players, and I am confident it will pay off in results on the pitch," says national coach Bilal Asad, who has been instrumental in recruiting the services of fitness trainer Sheraz Khalid from the Pakistan Cricket Board for Malaysia.

“Sheraz was highly recommended to me by (China’s coach, former Pakistan international) Rashid Khan and then when I checked with the Pakistan Cricket Board they also had good things to say and since he’s come to Malaysia in August, the players have been responding well,” says Bilal whose first class-cricket career in Pakistan overlapped with Sheraz’s. “It’s not the team didn’t know about fitness before but there is such a thing as cricket fitness, which is highly specific to the game and involves endurance, explosiveness and agility and most importantly, specialised conditioning for individuals according to their playing styles,” adds Bilal coach who has been coaching in Malaysia since 2011.

The squad trains as a group in the mornings with Sheraz before skill sessions and then customised gym work in the evenings. Shafiq Sharif the national wicket-keeper, says of the training, “It is tough. Mr. Khalid is with us all the time and joins us in the middle to make sure we are moving in the correct way. Everything from turning for runs to running between the wickets to our stroke play is improving as a result and we have never worked as hard before in our lives!” The 24-year old Sharif, along with some other members of the national squad are housed at the Kinrara Oval and supported with financial stipends in a pioneering show of support from the Malaysian Cricket Association for their players.

Winners, Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 4 2014

2014 has seen Malaysia climb from Pepsi ICC WCL Division 5 and win Division 4 as well as defeat Afghanistan in the ACC Premier League. “Malaysia are already in the world’s top 25,” says national team manager and MCA Honorary Treasurer Feisal Tajuddin, “our goal is to win through Division 3 in October and make a serious claim on World Cup 2019 qualification. Malaysian cricket is on the up, there is no reason why it cannot go even higher, we will support the players all the way.” A strong performance in the Asian Games will give them valuable momentum before the challenge of taking on Italy, Nepal, Singapore, Uganda, and the USA.

Nepal started the process a year before Malaysia, Singapore are catching up. The goal for all is ranking points, T20I and ODI status. Afghanistan, in their seamless rise from WCL Division 5 to ODI status and three consecutive T20 World Cups and the 2019 World Cup, has inspired the rest of Asia. In their quest for peak performance Malaysia have also recruited the services of renowned video analyst Sriram from Nepal and will bring in a sports psychologist prior to WCL Division 3 as they did before WCL Division 4.

Sheraz, who has plied his trade in Pakistan, Scotland, and Nottinghamshire (and who speaks with an accent that's a tribute to all three), in stiffening the sinews of the Malaysian tigers, is preparing the team to peak for the demands of modern day Associate cricket. “These boys have to play two matches in two days, and it’s not just about being fit enough to bowl at your fastest at the end of the second day as you did on the morning of the first, it’s about being as fit at the end of a week of cricket as you were at the start. Fitness makes for delivery of skill, correct decision-making and the best possible performance,” emphasises the wiry fitness maestro.

Malaysia Cricket Profile

Filed September 5th, 2014