|Player:||PA de Silva, WPUJC Vaas, Imran Khan|
The induction of a fitness trainer in the early 90s shaped Sri Lankan cricket team into a much more athletic unit which also helped in achieving success at the 1996 World Cup, former skipper Aravinda De Silva said in Mumbai on Saturday.
"Fitness is the most important aspect of the game, we realised that during the early period the players of the other teams were much stronger and fitter.
"In 1994, we got a fitness trainer (Alex Kountouri) and got working with him, it changed us into a much fitter team. It also enhanced my career with three to four years and helped us during the World Cup," said De Silva, who is one of the three brand ambassadors for Sundays Mumbai Marathon.
On his role in the city's premier annual event, De Silva added, "the basic aim is to promote the marathon which is mainly for a cause, close to my heart, to help the underprivileged and needy. That is why I am here. Also this will help the people to leave a healthy life on a day-to-day basis."
Underlining the importance of maintaining a good fitness level, De Silva also pointed out that it helped him concentrate much better during a long innings.
"The current (Sri Lankan) side is a fit lot and is because of the training they have done back home in the difficult conditions, therefore they do not find it dificult abroad," the former middle-order batsman said.
De Silva cited 32-year-old seamer Chaminda Vaas as an example and said, "its not a matter of fitness only, he is also an intelligent bowler, works hard, many people do not see the other side of a player. Apart from the talent, Vaas is also dedicated and this is the reason for him carrying on."
When asked whether he admired anyone in the fitness aspect, De Silva said, "I used to talk to Imran Khan, he emphasised a lot on fitness. He changed the Pakistan's teams attitude and approach towards the game. Since then, they are a fit bunch of cricketers and that has enhanced their performance."