WEST INDIES (WI) One-Day International (ODI) opening batsman Evin Lewis credits a failed fitness test, in 2020, as motivation for him to return to top form.
Lewis, who achieved his fourth ODI century during the WI’s second ODI win over Sri Lanka, on Friday, said while he was able to produce commendable results with the bat on the domestic circuit, his physical fitness was clearly below par.
Before selecting the regional squad for an international series, Cricket West Indies (CWI) mandates that players seeking selection undergo a fitness test, among other evaluations, before they can make it to the selection pool.
Prior to CWI picking the T20 International, ODI and Test teams for the Sri Lanka series, pacers Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas, along with batsman Shimron Hetmyer, and all-rounder Roston Chase all failed to reach the minimum fitness standard in time for selection consideration.
Their non-selection, particularly Hetmyer’s, was criticised throughout the region, mainly Guyana, since Hetmyer showed good form during the then-ongoing CG Insurance Super50 tournament.
Lewis, who experienced a similar situation last year, used that opportunity to revaluate himself as an athlete and opted to return to top shape.
Since his return to the ODI squad for the Sri Lanka series, Lewis scored 65 in his opening game and then top scored with 103 in the second. Both innings played a crucial role in the hosts securing victory over the visitors and bagging a precious series win.
WI presently lead the three-match ODI series 2-0 with the third and final encounter bowling off at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua on Sunday, from 9.30am.
“I’ve been doing a lot of gym work and running. Due to the last (CWI) fitness test, before this series, I failed it. It hurt a lot, to be doing so well and not knowing my fitness was the problem.
“So I went back home and did a lot of running and a lot of gym. Straight down until after the Ireland series (January 2020), I’ve been training hard. I’m hungrier for it (WI selection) right now,” he said.
Although the WI have already captured the ODI series, the 29-year old believes a victory on Sunday is ideal for the team to finish on a high note.
The left-handed batsman is known on the domestic circuit for playing aggressively at the top order. Over time, Lewis has gradually transitioned his big-hitting tendencies and established a more pragmatic approach to his innings.
He has since altered his competitive approach to suit the requirements of the regional squad; a change welcomed and applauded by WI coach Phil Simmons.
On his change of tactics, Lewis said, “That (change) has been on my behalf. I said for this series that I would give myself a fair chance. At the same time, we want to get a good start in the power play.
“It’s something I have been working on in 50 over cricket by trying to pace my innings. I can always make up in the middle overs and also at the end. It’s a work-in progress.”
He also credited opening partner Shai Hope for playing an instrumental role in rotating the strike at the crease and, by extension, aiding his development as a fellow opening batsman for the maroon.
Lewis said the pair “feed off each other” and Hope’s presence at the crease is reassuring and helps him build his own confidence.
Regarding the possibility of him breaking into the Test team, Lewis said there’s much work to be done. With the regional four-day tournament expected to bowl off in April, Lewis is uncertain to make the team this time around but does not count out a shot at the 2022 TT Red Force team as a start.
“”It’s something (Test selection) I’ve thought about. The only problem is I haven’t played four-day cricket for some time now. It’s something I have been thinking about seriously. Test cricket is the ultimate and everyone wants to play it.
“Once I play a couple four-day games and do well, I would also like to be accounted to be on the Test team in the future. Hopefully when the next four-day season arrives I can play, try and execute and get some good scores and hopefully be included (in the team). We’ll see what goes,” he concluded.