The mystery illness January 5, 2005

Razzaq's problem may lie in spinach addiction

Cricinfo staff

Abdul Razzaq's illness gets curiouser and curiouser © AFP

Abdul Razzaq's mysterious illness, that he suffered during the Melbourne Test, may be related to his curious addiction to spinach. Razzaq suffered a bout of vomiting, dizziness and breathing difficulties on the third morning of the Boxing Day Test and though he batted in the second innings, he hadn't recovered fully in time for the final game at Sydney.

Razzaq had expericenced dizziness and nausea during Pakistan's tour of New Zealand, in early 2004, and he was put on a diet of spinach by a medical guru in Pakistan. "Somebody told him to have spinach all the time," Zakir Khan, the Pakistan board's operation manager, told The Melbourne Age. "So he loves spinach and wherever he goes he says spinach should be part of the diet, in Pakistan particularly. The other team-mates tease him and call him Popeye the Sailor Man."

Zakir was concerned about Razzaq relying too much on a spinach diet, which was prescribed because of the high iron content, while ignoring other nutrients. "God knows, maybe. Believe me, we can't get to the bottom of the problem."

However, Darryn Lifson, the team physiotherapist, said Razzaq's problem was more likely to be a viral infection after tests and scans failed to point out the exact problem. "Nothing has been pinpointed," Lifson said. "His diet may be unusual in our terms but not in their cultural terms. It wasn't like he changed his diet when he got here. He eats carbs and protein, but when the Pakistanis come here and there's no dal and the food is cooked differently, it's not better or worse, it's just different. Sometimes they become ill. But I think his diet is fine."

Haroon Rashid, the team manager, was optimistic about Razzaq's recovery and revealed that he trained in the pool and gym to regain his strength. Razzaq has till January 16 to get completely fit, when Pakistan play their first game of the VB Series against Australia.