Saturday 11 April 2009

One size fits bugger all

Ian Blackwell got the first hundred of the season yesterday. But that wasn't the figure that caught the eye. Blackwell says he's lost 10 kilos over the winter, although he 'declined to give' his actual weight. Still north of 13 stones one would guess. He's a big-boned lad.

Blackwell has left Somerset, where he lurked as a village blacksmith of a player, for Durham, where he's a batting all-rounder. 'I think [Somerset captain Justin] Langer wanted me to be a bit fitter,' he said. 'He also told me he had an issue with my throwing arm, which I disputed. I didn't see myself fitting into the mould'.

So 10 kg lighter, Blackwell has buggered off - a case of heeding the message but blaming the messenger.  'He could not bring himself to use the first name of the Australian,' reported the Times. David Hopps went as far as calling him 'a wasted talent'. Blackwell was seen in conversation with Geoff Miller at Lord's, no doubt assuring him he can fill in where Samit Patel ['fat, unfit and lazy' - KP] has missed out.

All of which implies that Blackwell will play better if he's thinner, rather than just more dedicated. The truth is somewhat different, however much the legions of fitness trainers and conditioning coaches who surround pro cricketers would like it. Cricket is about fitness for purpose.

Virender Sehwag could be thinner. So could Shane Warne - who could also knock the smoking on the head - and so could Jesse Ryder. Not to mention Inzy, for whom no net session was complete without a wicker chair for him to sit in while he awaited his turn to bat. Where's the evidence that says they'd be better if they shed the timber?

Cricket - sport - is a meritocracy. Talent doesn't always apply itself to the hardest working or to conventional thinking. It's alright to be fat if you're good. The doctor himself, WG, played his last first class game this week in 1908. He'd only been playing for 43 years. Not bad for a big lad.

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