The day of the fat England cricketer was officially declared over yesterday. Samit Patel, the bouncing all-rounder from Nottinghamshire, was omitted from the squad for the Twenty20 World Cup next month because he again failed to meet stringent requirements.
"We don't request people to be fit now, we insist on it," said Geoff Miller, the national selector, in explaining Patel's omission from a party which will be led by Paul Collingwood and includes four players who are uncapped at T20 but are deemed to be specialists.
As he spoke at Lord's the ghosts of former fatties who performed sterling deeds for England, the Colins, Cowdrey and Milburn, were probably shaking their heads in disbelief at this turn of events.
But Miller was unabashed: "Samit has been told by the coach and the national selector where he stands. There are various measurements we go by and his haven't improved since we first de-selected him. It seems strange when you have that opportunity and you know that you're knocking on the door and you know full well that the director of cricket and the captain and the national selector have laid down these rules, you've got to go and work at it."
Patel, who impressed both as an attractive middle-order batsman and a left-arm spinner when he was called into the one-day team last summer, was first dropped from the side two months ago when it was clear he was overweight and not fit enough. He was told not to bother joining the team in the West Indies and stayed with England Lions in New Zealand.
He claims to have been on a stringent fitness regime and to have spent hours in the gym. But he was clearly still overweight when the season began, much to the dismay of his colleagues at Nottingham, although he scored 95 in his only first-class innings so far. "He is capable of being a quality international cricketer," said Miller. "He's hurt and I'd be hurt as well to be left out because I'm not fit."
Miller assured that everybody else in the squad, both for the World Twenty20 and the one-day series against the West Indies, has met the necessary requirements.
Collingwood sounded delighted to be recalled as captain for the tournament although he resigned the one-day captaincy last year because it was affecting his batting form. "It was Andy Flower who talked me round," he said. "He was superb in the things he said and this is one tournament lasting three weeks."
Collingwood was preferred to Rob Key, whose credentials were discussed according to Miller. Key of Kent has, however, made the squad ahead of his county opening colleague Joe Denly. The wicketkeeper will be James Foster, who is electrifying for Essex in the format, and the other uncapped players are Eoin Morgan, the Middlesex left-hander from Ireland and Essex's Grtaham Napier.
The women's World Twenty20 squad was also named yesterday and will be led by the World Cup-winning captain, Charlotte Edwards.
Days of summer: England squads
*ICC World Twenty20 squad
P Collingwood (capt), J Anderson, R Bopara, S Broad, A Flintoff, J Foster, R Key, D Mascarenhas, E Morgan, G Napier, K Pietersen, O Shah, R Sidebottom, G Swann, L Wright.
(To play West Indies, 21-26 May)
A Strauss (capt), Anderson, Bopara, T Bresnan, Broad, I Bell, Mascarenhas, K Pietersen, Collingwood, Morgan, M Prior, Shah, Sidebottom, Swann.Reuse content