So Samit Patel has had another kicking from Andy Flower, a display of the particularly piquant disappointment that only the uber-pro who had to scrap for everything he's got can conjure up. But it's not just Flabby Sam who's fat and lazy. The very sight of him was enough to prod the Guardian into that old standby, the Fat Cricketers XI.
Fat and lazy it was too, containing all the usual suspects, among them IT Botham, Boony, Mike Gatting and Shane Warne - just the 20,185 runs and 1,095 wickets in Test matches from them - plus Colin Milburn [yawn], Boof Lehman [groan], and then some others - Rob Key, Ian Blackwell - who bit the bullet and got fit seasons ago.
Then there was Dwayne Leverock [that picture again, yes] who, let's be honest, is a clubbie, and if we're counting them, listen up: I've seen guys fatter than him open the bowling, pal... And most egregiously of all, the good Doctor himself, founder of the modern game, maker of 54,000 runs across 44 first-class seasons on pitches that make my back garden look like the WACA circa 1974. Yes, WG was fat - when he was 55 and had spent half his life on Victorian trains going back and forth to matches. As the most cursory study of his career would reveal, when he was Samit Patel's age, he had scored a double-hundred at the Oval and then nipped down to Crystal Palace in the evening to win the 440-yard hurdles, and was regarded, with his brother, as the finest fielder in the land - his throw was measured at 122 yards.
But what was most fat and lazy about the Guardian's space-filler is that there is actually a good story here. What it's about really is fitness for purpose, because the standard of fitness has shifted and almost all of the Fat XI simply aligned with the requirements of their day. The most obvious absentee from the list was Samit Patel's Australian equivalent, Mark Cosgrove, who would walk into the Australian Test side at the moment if only he'd tow the line.
It's fascinating psychologically why players like that won't do something as simple as getting fit when it would obviously advance them. Are they maverick figures who would actually lose the edge from their game if they felt like they were conforming? Or is it a deeper fear of failure [or success] that manifests itself in the safety net of appearing too cool to care? Flower obviously feels like it's a problem worth solving, and Australia should too.
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