It’s not been a happy outing for Pakistan at the 2019 ICC World Cup so far. As if the humiliating loss to the West Indies wasn’t enough, the Pakistani team was once again in the middle of a controversy when the former pacer, Shoaib Akhtar went on to slam skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed by body shaming him.
Akhtar, known as the Rawalpindi Express for the pace he generated during his hay days, said: “When Sarfaraz Ahmed came for the toss, his stomach was sticking out and his face was so fat. He's the first captain I've seen who is so unfit. He's not able to move across and he's struggling with wicket-keeping.”
Such derogatory comments from a respected former player begs the question, how far are we willing to go to make a point? We take a look at a few athletes who have defied the widely-accepted norm of ‘sports fitness’ to chart a path to success in their selected filed.
This Sri Lankan legend needs no special introduction. From leading his side to their maiden World Cup title in 1996, to establishing himself as one of the greats of the game, there’s barely anything that Ranatunga didn’t manage during his playing days.
With 7456 runs in ODIs and 5105 runs in Tests, Ranantunga was a dominant figure on the field, someone who never let his physique come in the way of his success.
It was never easy for this Bermuda cricketer. From being forced to shed close to 13kgs just to be included in the national team for the 2007 World Cup to coming up with a blinder at slips to dismiss India’s Robin Uthappa, Dwayne Leverock showed why size mattered on the cricket field.
Leverock made a full stretch on to his right to latch on to an edge from Uthappa to produce a moment of magic in the group stage game. Although it was a one-sided affair in favour of India, that catch still remains fresh in the memory of cricket fans.
Talk about the rise of Afghanistan cricket, and everyone tend to readjust their focus on the likes of Rashid Khan, Mohammed Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. But a closer look will reveal the importance of Mohammad Shahzad in this setup.
The stocky wicketkeeper-batsman is responsible for giving Afghanistan quick-fire starts and then dons the role of a thinker, helping his skipper with field positions when his side on the field.
A man who scored runs by the bucket load, Inzamam-ul-Haq was a pure delight to watch during the 90s and early 2000s. These feelings where enhanced after his tremendous 329 against New Zealand in 2002.
A symbol of strength and subtlety, he relied on his sublime touch. He played shots all around the wicket, and was especially strong off his legs, and unleashed ferocious pulls and lofted drives.
A Mumbai off-spinner who made the most of the limited opportunities that came his way, Ramesh Powar relatively short international career saw him make a mark for himself in the sea of top-quality spinners in India.
In the 31 ODIs he played, Pawar claimed 34 wickets at a healthy economy rate of 4.65. One such player who once again proved that talent and not grit makes you stand at the highest level.
Feature image courtesy: AFP Photo/ Prakash Singh