By | 21st June, 2020

Amar Virdi has “responded extremely well” to the challenge of improving his fitness, according to Surrey’s new head coach, Vikram Solanki.

Although only 21 years old, Virdi has long been seen as one of the most exciting spin-bowling prospects in the English game. He was a key part of Surrey’s County Championship-winning side of 2018, and followed that up by topping the side’s bowling averages in the same competition in 2019.

But while there was little doubting his ability, there were some concerns about his fitness. He suffered a stress fracture over the winter of 2018-19 and did not immediately win a recall upon his recovery due to concerns over that fitness.

Solanki, however, believes such days are in the past. He now believes Virdi is among the fitter players in the Surrey squad and that his dedication will help him enhance his considerable skills.

“He’s has an interesting journey up until now,” Solanki said. “He’s had to work on all aspects of his game. With the right people around him – strength and conditions coaches at Surrey and England – he’s getting to the point where he understands that to be a professional cricketer he needs to be an athlete. He needs to be mindful of his nutrition and fitness.

“He’s responded extremely well to that. He’s really challenged himself. He’s probably one of the fitter lads in our Surrey squad now and that’s given him an understanding of how that will transfer and enhance his skill as well.”

Virdi was one of five spinners – three of them offspinners – in the England training squad named ahead of the West Indies Test series. But while his lack of batting ability could prove an impediment – he averages just 9.61 with the bat in first-class cricket – Solanki feels his ability with the ball could set him apart from the rest of the pack.

“He’s an exciting prospect,” Solanki said. “‘Talent’ and ‘potential’ are words thrown around a bit loosely at times. But he has some real skill. He’s a very talented offspinner. He has the ability to spin and the ball and is a very attacking bowler. And that could set him apart.”