XI Best Performances in the Cricket World Cup (by Fat Cricketers)

Written by  //  February 12, 2011  //  Sport  //  4 Comments

At a recent NLSIU-NALSAR Alumni match in Delhi, my once-fat-now-fit friend commented on how fat and unfit the NLS alumni players looked and how therefore NALSAR would win. Stung to the quick, I (never-fit-always-fat) sought to point out that being “gym-fit” had nothing to do with cricket and having cricket-skills of quick feet and a good hand-eye co-ordination were more important. My arguments were immediately buttressed by a flurry of boundaries and sixes from a far-from-lissome NLS batsman who was belting the whippet-like NALSAR bowlers to all corners of the park. I was torn between anguish for my alma mater’s bowlers and delight at being proved right.

Not satisfied at just having been proved right, I promptly shuffled off to the nearby nets to prove my theory myself. My batting was ok, I guess, but when I tried to bowl (slow right arm rubbish basically), a bolt of pain went through my right arm as it protested at being unreasonably taxed with the effort of propelling a cricket ball 19 yards at far, far less than threatening pace. Gasping, wheezing, and clutching my side, I beat a hasty retreat from the nets to the safety of a nearby McDonald’s. Many fries and sugary drinks later, I carried my bruised and wounded ego home… and found out NLS lost (Yay! No wait, that means I lost the argument. Boo!). So much for my fat-is-fit for cricket.

Needless to say, putting the good lawyer’s maxim of never letting the facts come in the way of a good argument, I continue to hold that being gym-fit does not necessarily mean being good at cricket. Indeed some of the most memorable cricketing performances have come from the “well-rounded” cricketers of the day, and many, at the highest level of one-day cricket, the ICC World Cup.

Presenting, therefore, another piece on the upcoming World Cup: The XI Best World Cup performances by uh… cricketers with “big personalities” (as we say down in the South).

11. Jan Berrie Burger 85 (86) v England, 2003 World Cup
Namibia have had one undistinguished World Cup so far (6 matches, no wins), but Jan Berrie Burger ensured that at least one match would be memorable. Chubby, and looking like someone with a fondness for him namesake (easiest joke of this post!), he laid into the English bowling smearing 85 off 86 in a whirlwind assault that however, did not lead his team to a win (though he had the highest score of the match). Nevertheless, he struck a blow (actually several) for the cause of amply proportioned cricketers at the World Cup.

10.Dwayne Leverock that catch v India, 2007 World Cup
Easily the most iconic image of the eminently forgettable 2007 World Cup was 120 kg Dwayne Leverock launching himself gazelle-like, almost parallel to the ground and holding on to a stunning catch in the slips. You have to be a heartless creep not to watch the catch and the ensuing celebrations and not cheer the Big Bermudan. Unfortunately, the rest of the Indian batting did not share the sentiment and proceeded to brutally maul the bowling for a cruel 413/5.

Dwayne Leverock takes off!

9. Eddo Brandes 4-21 v England, 1992 World Cup
Eddo Brandes was a chicken farmer, and one look at his frame would tell you that he didn’t mind tucking into them as well. By the dozen. What he also did, with just as much success, was to humiliate England with a 4-wicket haul in the quiet Australian county town of Albury as eventual-finalists England, were hustled to a 9 run defeat against not-yet-Test-Status Zimbabwe.

8.Tariq Iqbal 2 catches v West Indies, 1996 World Cup
Kenya probably picked Tariq Iqbal for the World Cup to make the rest of us amateur wicket-keepers feel better about ourselves. It was not so much that he had poor ‘keeping technique as much as he just could not get his paws on the ball. At all. His contribution to one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history is, however, far more er… substantial. A fierce cut by Brian Lara found itself trapped between his plentiful thighs (5:30 into the video); not that Iqbal intended it so, but as we say in cricket, they all count and this sparked off a West Indian collapse. In any case, the scorecard will always read, Brian Lara c. Tariq Iqbal b. Rajab Ali 9.

7. Mike Gatting 56 (62) v India, 1987 World Cup
“Fat Gatt” as he was often called never let a good lunch come in the way of tucking into the bowling on the pitch. In the 1987 World Cup, he swept and swept India’s spinners through his innings to dash the hopes of several hundred millions and with Graham Gooch, put up a huge total (in 1987 terms i.e.) and helped take England to their second final of the World Cup. Unfortunately for “Fat Gatt” his overconfidence in sweeping also cost England the World Cup in the finals, but they wouldn’t have got there without him.

6. Inzamam ul Haq 60(37) v New Zealand, 1992 World Cup
Inzamam Alu Ul Haq burst on the scene (or at least strolled in serenely at a pace more commensurate of a gentleman his size) in the 1992 World Cup where he tore up the New Zealand bowling attack scoring 60 of 28 balls and got Pakistan into the finals from a seemingly hopeless situation. Poor Inzy got much flak for his girth, but as if to prove that his cricketing brilliance was inextricably linked to his waist size, the one World Cup he turned svelte, he promptly lost form and scored 19 runs in the whole tournament. Someone soon found him an all-you-can eat buffet and the next thing you know, bowlers around the world lost their appetites.

5. Virender Sehwag 82(81) v Australia, 2003 World Cup
Before he started posing bodypainted and topless (ugh and double ugh) for ads, Virender Sehwag was, what is called in these parts, “haalthy”. As the rest of the Indian top order crumbled around him to the wile of McGrath and the fire of Lee in the 2003 World Cup final, Sehwag decided to go out all guns blazing and blazed away to a quickfire 82. Alas, that was as far as he got, and but for him, India would have gone down in a World Cup final by over 200 runs (in the event, it was a much more acceptable 125 run loss).

4. David Boon 75(125) v England, 1987 World Cup
The record holder for the most beers consumed (52*) on a flight from Australia to England was also the top scorer in Australia’s underdog victory in the final at Kolkata in the 1987 World Cup. Never to let a bad ball go unpunished, or a 3 course meal uneaten, David Boon, with Allan Border, Merv Hughes, Craig McDermott, Steve Waugh and Geoff Marsh dragged Australia from the swamps of mediocrity to the peak of World Cup success. With the current obsession in the Australian cricket team for blonde metrosexuals who twitter about their every bowel movement, one longs for those glory days of beer bellies, aggressive hirsutism, and the repeated questioning of the opposition player’s parentage, sexuality, and propensity to engage in Biblically forbidden sexual acts.

3. Arjuna Ranatunga 47*(37) v Australia, 1996 World Cup
Sourav-da wasn’t the first Asian captain to get under the Aussies’ skin. Arjuna Ranatunga was there first, wrote the book, and won a World Cup along the way. From asking for runners when he was tired, to threatening to take his players off the field for bad umpiring Ranatunga did it all to the Aussies with pomp and relish. Needless to say, he also featured in the unbeaten partnership that took Sri Lanka home in the finals against Australia at Karachi; something which, unfortunately, Sourav-da failed to do seven years later.

2. Shane Warne 4-36 v West Indies, 1996 World Cup and 4-29 v South Africa , 1999 World Cup
Never the paragon of physical-fitness virtue, he dragged Australia to the finals of two separate World Cups pretty much on his own. His sheer presence (ample as it was, I am talking psychological here, not physical), and ability to get into the minds of panicking West Indian and South African batsmen, meant that he needed to do little more than pitch the ball and wait for the batsmen to lose their brains, and hand over their wickets. It is therefore a matter of supreme irony that he was banned from the 2003 World Cup for allegedly taking pills “to look less fat”.

1. Aravinda De Silva 107*(124) and 3-42 v Australia, 1996 World Cup
No all-round (hah! Last pun, I promise) performance in a World Cup final comes close to Aravinda’s magnificent century and three-fer on that steamy Karachi evening of 1996. It is tempting to imagine that beefy cricketers make the most of their bulk and smash everything out of sight, but Aravinda’s innings was the very opposite of that stereotype. He flicked, drove, leg-glanced and caressed the ball to the boundary in a manner that would have had the purists purring in delight. A worthy man-of-the-final winner and the ultimate two-finger salute to joyless gym infesters.

Given the fitness-fascists currently sucking the fun out of international cricket with their diet plans and exercise routines that seem to constantly result in players being injured before a ball is bowled, I fear future world cups may not feature more entries to the above list. Not all hope is lost and there is still one man bravely flying the flag for fellow fatties in the World Cup: Jesse Ryder.

4 Comments on "XI Best Performances in the Cricket World Cup (by Fat Cricketers)"

  1. Anisha February 12, 2011 at 6:35 pm ·

    Great post, Alok! What about an honourable mention for Jacques Kallis? I would nominate his 96 against us in our first match in 1999, holding together a very good chase for the win.

    Come to think of it, Kallis’ incredible record scores several points for the not-so-pointy brigade.

  2. Rohan Kaul February 13, 2011 at 1:17 am ·

    Very enjoyable post, Alok! What about Gooch’s 71 (84 balls) – England v. New Zealand (1979 World Cup Semi-Final)?

    Also – who do you think would be the best captain for a fat cricketers team? Mark “Tubby” Taylor? Mike Gatting, maybe?

  3. Alok February 13, 2011 at 4:51 am ·

    Thanks Anisha and Kaul!

    There’s plenty of space for Hon’ble mentions of course!

    Best captain for a team of fat cricketers would be Shane Warne obviously…

    The team will barely train, hardly listen to the coach, overeat and take long drinks breaks but win every match they play in.

  4. Anisha February 13, 2011 at 9:29 am ·

    And get visits from Elizabeth Hurley. Some people clearly have all the luck…

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