I put this big boy up on cricinfo, but I don’t see why I shouldn’t spread the love here:
If all cricketers were like Mike Hussey or AB de Villiers, cricket would be a little samey. Yes, there is a place for the overachieving accountant and the Christian-pop lovers in cricket, but cricket also needs diversity.
One great cricketing diversity has always been seen in waistbands. In normal life someone of WG Grace’s girth might have been a laughing stock, but in cricket he was one of the gods. Arjuna Ranatunga might have the body shape of a guy who owns a doughnut emporium in Idaho, but he also has a World Cup. And while Mike Gatting should be abused for being a tad portly, he is instead abused for his reverse sweep.
Yuvraj Singh is one of the best batsmen to watch in world cricket when he’s in form. He is ego personified. Yuvraj doesn’t just hit the ball, he lets it rebound off his aura. But now he has been dropped after a poor run of form and higher numbers on the scale. It seems unfair. In this world of political correctness gone crazy, a man can be pushed aside just because he enjoys his food and missed a few gym sessions.
When talking about Yuvraj’s axing, Kris Srikkanth might have mentioned form, but he quickly mentioned fitness afterwards. It was an axing based on form and physical form. There can be no doubt, size matters to the Indian selectors.
As an advocate of all body types, I’d like you to think about what cricket would miss if larger men had always been shunned:
Would legspin have come back into cricket if Shane Warne had not been allowed to play?
Imagine a world without Inzamam’s sublime batting and farcical running.
Minnow cricket could hardly stand up right if it were not kept balanced by Bermuda’s favourite son, Dwayne Leverlock.
How could anyone ever want to live knowing that the moustaches of David Boon and Merv Hughes were hidden from the world because of belly issues?
Think of the joy in Jesse Ryder laughing while he stood at the non-striker’s end on 99, watching Chris Martin bat?
Don’t tell me that seeing Ramesh Powar play international cricket didn’t fill you with glee.
These men have left a mark on international cricket just in the last couple of decades, and there is more where that came from. Cricket is not a game just for the athletically gifted. It is a game for the fat man who can hit, the large-bummed bowling athlete, and the round captain. It is a game that not only embraces standing still for long periods of time, but if you get hurt you can just stand there and hit while another man does the running for you. It also breaks for lunch and drinks.
It couldn’t possibly be more aimed at the ample-framed. Wicketkeepers need girth to ensure that no ball passes them. Batsmen need size to ensure balance. Fast bowlers need rump for power through the crease. And spinners need to be large to lull batsmen into a false sense of security.
This game of cricket cannot become a sizeist sport. The large-boned man must be placed up on a reinforced pedestal, because large men are cricket. Fat men are jollier, cooler, and less likely to talk about good areas or momentum than anyone else. So ridding the game of them is against the true spirit of cricket.
I don’t care if Yuvraj comes back with seven chins, cankles and washes himself with a rag on a stick, I just like to see him bat. His waist size has never had anything to do with it.