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Kicking? What Kicking?

It warms the heart to hear the lads supporting their own in times of need, for draconian BCCI edicts usually ensure that we hear precious little more than the inane voices of daftness. So to read of Gautam Gambhir asking the paying public to get off Yuvraj Singh's fast expanding waistline back brought a smile to my face. It is, from any angle, a noble gesture. Very noble, indeed.

Noble, but utterly misplaced comments that will be used by some media types to propagate theories of unrest, in the Punjab Kings XI setup, owing to Yuvraj's demotion from the captaincy for IPL3. It's common knowledge that sportsmen will get away with almost anything as long as they are performing, including a bulging waistline. Just ask John Daly, Lance Franklin, Paul Gascoigne or even Ramesh Powar.

Yuvraj's battle with the bulge is not new. Comments about his spare tyre have grown from the odd raised eyebrow to a full blown chorus. His public profile ensures that such will grow proportionately to his poor on-field performance. After all, given the example set by elite sportsmen the world over, is it too much to expect the physical condition of our elite cricketers to be the very antithesis of that of Arjuna Ranatunga?

Rotund cricketers are not new to Indian cricket. In fact, ever-increasing girth was thought by many stars of yesteryear to be an effective signal to the world that they had now reached "senior player" status within the team. This was merely an extension of an informal protocol that guaranteed seniors with respect and permanency until they, and only they, decided that their creaking bones could take it no more. While Yuvraj may crave such treatment, in today's professional and franchised age he is unlikely to find many sympathisers.

Even Virender Sehwag used his time out of Team India to lose a few inches. He returned a rejuvenated and more formidable cricketer. While KXIP are unlikely to take the drastic step of dropping their icon player, the time has come for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the Indian selectors to take this step. An effective personal trainer coupled with a strict diet and training regime may not change Yuvraj's ego, but it will ensure that he is of more use to Team India upon his return.

It is clear that the cocoon in which Yuvraj envelopes himself is hindering his professional decision making. Ego, anger and a famous name may get you invites to the hottest do's on the Mumbai party circuit. However, such personality traits are unlikely to endear Yuvraj to the millions of fans who have supported him thus and rightly expect him to be a better cricketer than he is currently allowing himself to be.

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