Pakistan's Azam Khan with Shadab Khan during the fourth T20 International against England at The Oval, London, on May 30. Image Credit: Reuters

Fitness plays a key role in sport. Talent is not enough, players have to be super fit, which help elevate teams’ performances.

In cricket, many teams, including India, use the yo-yo endurance test that sets the benchmark for players’ fitness level. It is a standard tool to evaluate athletes’ physical preparedness and draw up training regimens to achieve peak performance.

Despite the strict regimes, big-sized players still make it to the national teams. The subject gained significance recently when Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batter Azam Khan, who is part of the T20 World Cup 2024 in the US and the West Indies, has been at the receiving end for being oversized.

Fans have been criticising the selection committee while sharing the video of the youngster being mocked for his big frame.

This is not the first time that cricket has had heavy cricketers and here we will explore some of them, who played at the highest level making a significant impact on the field.

Azam Khan 110kg approx. (Pakistan)

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Azam Khan Image Credit: Reuters

Son of former Pakistan wicketkeeper Moin Khan, this 25-year-old is known for his power-hitting. Drawing inspiration from Chris Gayle, he provides the firepower in the top order by getting quick runs. Azam, who made his international debut in 2021 against England, has played a total of 13 T20Is accumulating just 88 runs. He has been at the receiving end for his poor show in the recently concluded T20I series against England. Azam scored just 11 runs in the two matches and also dropped a few easy catches behind the stumps.

Rahkeem Cornwell 140kg approx. (West Indies)

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Rahkeem Cornwell Image Credit: AFP

Nicknamed cricket’s man-mountain, the West Indian all-rounder was easily the heaviest cricketer of all time. The six-foot tall cricketer can be very brutal with his shots and also picked up wickets with his off-break bowling. He was named the Championship Player of the year by Cricket West Indies in August 2019 and made his international debut the same year against India. The highlight of the 29-year-old’s career was his unbeaten 205 runs off just 77 balls including 17 fours and 22 sixes for Atlanta Fire in a local T20 competition.

Dwayne Leverock 127kg (Bermuda)

Dwayne Leverock REUTERS-1717684271061
Dwayne Leverock Image Credit: Reuters

The former Bermudian cricketer rose to fame for his stunning diving catch at the slips of India’s Robin Uthappa during the 2009 World Cup in West Indies. Leverock went on to play 32 ODI matches for Bermuda. He picked up 34 wickets at an average of 33.03. He also served as a policeman and a prison van driver.

Mohammad Shahzad 100kg approx (Afghanistan)

Mohammad Shahzad REUTERS-1717684280023
Mohammad Shahzad Image Credit: Reuters

The wicketkeeper-batter was known for his charisma on the field. Known for his big-hitting skills, he stands as one of Afghanistan’s most successful batters in shorter formats. Making his debut in 2009, he went on to play 159 matches (2 Tests, 84 ODIs, 73 T20Is). He amassed 4,844 runs including seven centuries and also proved his worth behind the stumps accounting for 97 catches and 37 stumpings. On his fitness he once said: “Dekhiye hum fitness bhi poori karte hain aur khaate bhi poora hain (I work a lot on my fitness, but I don’t compromise on food). You want me to have a fitness routine like Kohli, it is not possible, but I am working on it (losing weight).”

Inzamam-ul-Haq 100kg approx. (Pakistan)

Inzamam-ul-Haq Image Credit: Reuters

Often criticised for his lazy lifestyle, the former Pakistan captain never seemed to have been affected by it. The 54-year-old legendary cricketer, who made his international debut in 1992, played for over 15 years for Pakistan, amassing 8,830 Test runs and 11,739 ODI runs. He also had a history of being involved in the funniest run-outs in cricket.

Colin Milburn 114kg (England)

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Colin Milburn Image Credit: Reuters

Colin Milburn made his international debut in 1966. He represented England in just nine Tests before a car accident resulted in him losing an eye. He scored 654 runs in those nine Tests at an average and strike rate of 46.71 and 78.8 respectively. Despite his weight, his fitness contributed to him becoming one of the most entertaining English cricketers of his time.

Mike Gatting 110kg approx. (England)

Mike Gatting REUTERS 1981-1717684276391
Mike Gatting Image Credit: GN Archives

The England star batter always struggled with his foot movement due to his weight but he still was one among the few players to have played Indian spinners well in India. The former skipper also led England to a few Ashes victories. Gatting scored 4,409 Test runs and 2,096 ODI runs.

Mark Cosgrove 102kg approx. (Australia)

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Mark Cosgrove Image Credit: AFP

A hard hitter of the cricket ball, he couldn’t make it big due to his fitness issues. The top-order batsman represented Australia in 3 ODIs. He also had won the Bradman award for the best young player in 2005 and regularly featured in the local leagues. The left-hander was named as the club’s Cricketer of the Year in 2017 as well.

Jesse Ryder 110kg approx. (New Zealand)

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Jesse Ryder Image Credit: Reuters

The big man was one of the most talented cricketers from New Zealand. Despite his fitness issues, the 39-year-old possessed huge potential with the bat, but he couldn’t fully utilise his skills at the international level. He played 18 Tests with 1,269 runs and 48 ODIs scoring 1,362 runs. He also played 22 T20Is scoring 457 runs. Alongside his cricketing career he was also involved in a few off-field controversies.

Arjuna Ranatunga 115kg approx. (Sri Lanka)

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Arjuna Ranatunga Image Credit: Supplied

Arjuna Ranatunga is arguably one of the finest Sri Lankan cricketers of all time. The 1996 World Cup winning captain scored 12,561 international runs and also picked 95 wickets.

Warwick Armstrong 133kg (Australia)

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Warwick Armstrong Image Credit: Reuters

Warwick Armstrong despite being so heavily built, he still went on to become one of the greatest all-rounders of his time. The batting all-rounder made his international debut in 1902. His career, which spanned for more than two decades, included 2,863 runs at an average of 38.69 and 87 wickets at an average of 33.6. He went on to become one of the finest captains of Australia too. Thus, he was inducted into the Australian Hall of Fame in 2000.

Ramesh Powar 90kg approx. (India)

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Ramesh Powar Image Credit: Reuters

The former Indian off-spinner featured for India in just two Tests securing six wickets and contributing 13 runs. In the ODI arena, Powar’s 31 matches saw him taking 34 wickets and scoring 163 runs. Impressively, 63 per cent of his runs — 103 in total — were earned through brisk running between the wickets. Additionally, he showcased his fielding skills with 3 catches, cementing his unconventional but noteworthy cricketing journey.

Merv Hughes approx 105kg (Australia)

Merv Huges AFP-1717684308364
Merv Hughes Image Credit: AFP

The Victorian fast bowler with a huge moustache always had problems with his weight. But that never impacted his bowling as he finished with 212 Test scalps from 53 matches but his ODI career was a little chequered with only 38 wickets from 33 ODIs. As a batsman, he was a hard hitter of the cricket ball averaging around 17. He also was a larger-than-life character.