Cricket South Africa have eased their fitness requirements for national players, for those that fail the 2km timetrial, or the recommended skinfold measures, according to a ESPNcricinfo report on Monday.
The players that fail either of the tests, will now be permitted to play if their respective coaches allow.
ESPNcricinfo reports that a document was sent to players informing them of the changes, but that CSA will "strongly recommend" that those who do not meet the minimum fitness standard "should not take the field in an official match”.
For the 2023/2024 season, the fitness test requirements will remain the same. For the national men’s players, they will have to run a 2km timetrial in 8.30 minutes or less, and have a skinfold count of 85mm or less. On the women’s side, they will still have to complete the 2km timetrial in 9.30 minutes or less, and have a skinfold count of less than 120mm.
Strangely though, CSA have also created an elite standard for players - but have not said what the reward for meeting these standards will be. The men’s elite standard has been set at under 7.45 minutes for the 2km run, while the women’s elite mark will be under 9.00 minutes.
It’s believed that previously South Africa was the only country to apply fitness standards quite so strictly. Sisanda Magala was affected on the men’s side, while Lizelle Lee and Dane’ van Niekerk fell short of qualifying marks on the women’s side.
Van Niekerk’s exclusion, in particular, from the Proteas Women’s squad for their hosting of the T20 Cricket World Cup earlier this year grabbed headlines. The former captain was returning from injury and did not meet the 2km timetrial standards, and was subsequently excluded from the squad.
Lee and Van Niekerk have both since retired from international cricket.