Physical fitness is a general state of health and well-being. But, in the field of sports, it is one of the most pivotal ingredients to success. Not only does it enables a sportsperson to perform better, it further enables them to elevate their game to another level.
Amongst multiple sports, cricket is probably the one that is marred with lack of adequate fitness (a rare exception being Virat Kohli). While the level of fitness has surely increased over the years, the game wasn’t really with shredded bodies back in the day.
On the cricket field, there have been several individuals who we have looked at and wondered – how are they competing with some of the best athletes in the world? Just like in Kung Fu Panda, when Grand Master Oogway pointed his finger at Po and said he would be the Dragon Warrior? No one, not even Po, believed that he could ignore his giant frame and use kung fu to save the Valley of Peace in times of distress.
Similarly, with a few hits and misses, there are cricketers who didn’t just surprise us but also won our hearts as they carved out a niche of their own.
And, with the proud tradition of fat cricketers facing extinction because of modern sports science and professionalism, we bring back days of the old when the exploits of some of the ‘biggest’ stars forced us to look beyond their weight problems.
If your mum’s a chef, your family has every chance of being on the larger side, and if you end up living above an Indian takeaway, chances are you will look a lot like Obelix. Leverock’s was a similar case.
The Bermuda cricketer was chucked out of the national side because he was just too big and too much of a liability. But, he knuckled down and scrapped nearly 23 kilos off his original 136 kgs.
Leaner, only relatively, Leverock set the 2007 World Cup on fire with one of the greatest catches ever. He leapt a full length to his right and latched onto an edge from India’s Robin Uthappa. Now, that’s what you call winning the haters over like a pro.
When a conversation veers in the direction of ‘big’ men who succeeded in cricket, Arjuna Ranatunga’s name is the one that’s hard to miss. Despite being a little chubby around the waist, he was adept at handling pace and spin. If that wasn’t enough, Ranatunga was fairly decent with the ball too.
The only riddle he couldn’t solve was the running between wickets. He couldn’t, or didn’t, run between the wickets or on the field, even if his life depended on it. He would call for runners and substitutes pretty regularly and irk opposing captains.
But, despite his weight issues, the left-hander silenced his critics after leading Sri Lanka to their greatest cricketing triumph – the 1996 World Cup.
Pakistani legend Izamam-ul-Haq’s waist line seemed to grow at the same speed as his flowing hipster beard. He is probably the first name that comes to mind when someone talks about top overweight cricketers in history.
The former Pakistan skipper was more unfit than fat, big and burly; his brain just couldn’t get his feet to move when running between wickets. It was just a series of hilarious incidents. A big guy calling for a run, calling it off and then calling again only to get stranded midway with a bewildered look on his face.
While he continues to be the butt of jokes, Inzy bhai was arguably a symbiosis of strength and subtlety. Power was no surprise, but sublime touch was remarkable for a man of his bulk. He loathed exercise and often looked a passenger in the field, but with a willow between his palms he was suddenly galvanised.
Fat and Australian cricketer don’t really go hand-in-hand, especially in this day and age. But, not too long ago, Australia had a plenty of them on the field. While Mark Cosgrove is clearly flying that flag, the Oz spin legend Shane Warne wasn’t far behind either.
One of the greatest leg-spinners of all time was not particularly slim at any point during his playing days. In fact, it won’t be wrong to say that Warne has probably looked his fittest since leaving the game.
When he arrived on the international circuit, he was a little more than chubby. When he was being touted as one of the best spinners in the world, he was still on the heavier side. When he grabbed his monumental 700th Test wicket, he had a beer gut.
The West Indies’ latest revelation, Rahkeem Cornwall, is the reason we decided to write this article. The 24-year-old all-rounder made headlines for his standout performance during England’s tour match win over the West Indies XI in Saint Kitts.
The 2m giant hit 59 runs off 61 balls, including three sixes and three fours. But, all of that was put in the shade by his impressively jolly frame. At 6’5, Rahkeem might not be the tallest cricketer in the circuit, but add to it a body weight of 140 kgs and he definitely is ‘big’. And it turns out cricket fans still love a plump athlete with skills for days.
Well, clearly, he is the man to carry cricket’s greatest tradition into the next age of overweight athletes.