Pakistan cricket – Unravelling the minds..

Cool dudes, tableeghees, womanizers, corrupt fucks, sneaky fucks, junkies, fat boys, lazy boys, useless boys, pretty boys, youngsters, showmen, crazies and phattoos; Pakistan cricket’s got ‘em all. Reflecting over the countless hours I’ve spent following meaningless cricket, I can at least proclaim a degree of expertise in recognizing these personalities and unraveling the minds that run behind their often-legendary antics.

In spite of the wide variety of cricketers at my disposal, it is the name of Abdul Razzaq that screams out for instant recognition. Where lazy boys go, Razzaq is in a distinct league of his own. Once on the field, Razzaq steps into his own bubble. In the Razzaq bubble, everything moves at his pace; the rest it seems is immaterial.


In the Razzaq bubble…


The Razzaq bubble phenomenon is best displayed when the ball is struck in his direction. It may be early in the innings, but already his brain is fixated on more impending issues. Lost in his thoughts, Razzaq suddenly notices that all the fielders in the ground are pointing towards him. Razzaq stands unmoved. Finally when none of the fielders can get through to him, Afridi decides to take matters into his own hands and shouts at Razzaq. Afridi, I might explain is the only person on the field able to perpetrate the Razzaq bubble. Upon hearing his call, Razzaq catches sight of the white ball streaking across the outfield in his direction. He now starts to panic.

The beauty of Razzaq is that even as he panics, his body reacts in a normal graceful fashion. I believe that somewhere between hearing Afridi’s call and seeing the ball rolling towards him, Razzaq’s brain sends certain signals to his body. This process probably takes a few seconds. And then Razzaq starts to run. Well I say run, for lack of a better word. It’s only a gentle trot really. Keeping his hands straight, he moves in a graceful, repetitive motion. As he gets closer to the ball, he feels that a dive is in order. While his brain is still processing this new request, the ball has crossed the rope.

“Oh well”, thinks Razzaq. “It was hit too hard anyway”. Razzaq nonchalantly picks up the ball from the boundary and throws it back. Back in the bubble he goes.

Razzaq’s partner in crime, Shahid Afridi presents a compelling case to head the category of the crazies. Afridi’s batting mishaps are by now the stuff of legend. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to break down the process leading up to Afridi’s inevitable flashes of madness.

As is often his wont, right before he enters the field, Afridi promises himself. “Today I will play out the first three overs. Then I’ll see if there’s a loose ball”
Ball 1. Respectably played away towards the leg side. No run.
“This is good, I’m playing myself in. No need to panic, lots of overs to go.” thinks Afridi to himself.

Ball 2: Played towards the leg side. Into the gap. 2 runs.
“Wah, wah Lala, I’m finally coming of age as a batsman”. The success of this new approach has left Afridi excited.

Ball 3: Something bizarre happens. Only it would be bizarre if it hadn’t happened 250 times before.


Wow, never seen that one before Afridi


Afridi himself suggests that he forgets about defending the ball as soon as he hears the crowd cheering him on. If one was to believe Afridi’s explanation, it would mean that the crowd’s voice enters Afridi’s ears, reaches his brain, and attempts to turn it off. With his brain in a hanging mode, Afridi’s body turns to its default action. The result by now is imprinted in our memories. The ball skies into the deep and Afridi is caught.

As he trudges off the field, Afridi’s brain turns back on.” What the hell just happened?”, he thinks to himself. “I thought I was going to play a long innings this time!”

“Maybe I’m just not cut out for this sensible batting”, concludes Afridi despairingly. “I think I’ll just concentrate on my bowling from now on.”

We’ve witnessed this sequence of events for the last 15 years. 15 years, imagine that. When Afridi first batted this way, I was in grade 8. Today, I’ve completed high school, undergrad, grad school and 5 years of professional life. A lot around me has changed. One thing hasn’t. Afridi still bats like this.

The most fascinating genre of Pakistani cricketers is the corrupt fucks. I’ve always been curious about what the corrupt fucks must be thinking when they’re on the field. As the subject of my analysis, I’ve chosen that distinguished TV expert on ARY, Salman Butt. I might add of course, that I am only tentatively assuming that Butt is guilty. After all he does present a strong case of innocence (Did you know that he has some new proof that proves that he’s innocent? Oh and he says that he only went to jail to protect the country’s honor. What a martyr)

Anyway let’s try to envisage a scenario where Salman Butt has been instructed by Mazhar Majeed to play out a maiden over. I think the sequence of events must be something like this:

“Ohh man I nearly forgot, this is the over isn’t it? Mazhar said I needed to play out a maiden”, thinks Butt to himself.

The first ball whizzes past Butt’s outside edge.

As the bowler heads back to the start of his run up Butt’s conscience has suddenly made an appearance. “Come on yaar, I thought I wasn’t gonna do this anymore. I’m captain of my country, maybe I should just forget what Majeed said”

The second ball goes by and Butt is still debating with his conscience.

“It’s not my fault, I have so many responsibilities. I have to earn money for my sister’s dowry, have to feed the family. Besides, I really need to purchase a new watch.”

The third ball leaves Butt seriously wrestling with his paranoid side.

“What if I get caught? ICC’s got scouts all over. What if Mazhar rats me out?”

Butt is now visibly nervous.

“I need to think of all the money I’ll make”, he reassures himself. “ Besides I’m only playing a dot ball. I’ll make up for it in the next over. Come on yaar, every player in the world is doing it, why shouldn’t I?”

2 more balls go by and Butt through a mixture of intent and incompetence, has now played out 5 balls without scoring.

Before the bowler returns to his mark for the final ball, Butt has finally calmed down and is now thinking rationally.

“I think I’ll give most of the money to charity, this way it’ll go towards a good cause. It’s all about the country you know”.

On that very benevolent note, Butt blocks the last ball.


The innocent who was “set up”


The useless boys are the bane of my existence. Imran Farhat has long been the flag bearer for this category. For more than a decade I have watched helplessly as Farhat has somehow made his way to the team, swished at balls outside his off stump,made a fool of himself and then disappeared back into the wilderness.


Why does everybody hate me?


With regards to his persistent plays and misses outside the off stump, I believe Farhat usually goes in thinking,”I think I’ll look good if I drive this ball without moving my feet. After all, I have excellent hand-eye coordination”.

Sadly he’s doesn’t.Ball after ball passes by Farhat; bat and ball simply refuse to make contact.One would think that Farhat’s reaction to this sad predicament would be, “Yaar itna ghatia player naheen hona chahiyay tha mujhay.” (I should not suck so much)

But I don’t think that’s his reaction. I genuinely believe that Farhat is a fan of his own batting. This can be the only explanation for why he keeps swinging outside his off stump with such confidence that his endeavors will bear fruit.

However, despite all his swagger at the crease, the inner Farhat is a broken man. The impatience of the media and the cricket fans weighs down heavily on Farhat every time he takes strike.The poor guy is truly overcome with emotion as he takes strike.

“Why does everybody hate me?” he thinks to himself in a rush of sadness. The ball meanwhile keeps whizzing past his outside edge.

To conclude my musings for now, I’ll touch upon a category that has long suffered from the vagaries of Pakistan cricket, ‘the youngsters’. Hassan Raza makes a strong case to be considered a veteran of this category.


The eternal youngster


As a youngster, not much is to be expected from Hassan Raza. His mind is occupied with only one thought as he nervously takes strike.

“I’m too young. I’m too young. I’m too young”.

As he is trapped LBW and trudges back to the pavilion, Hassan Raza reflects sadly on his career.

“I was picked too young. I’m still so young. One day when I’m not so young I’ll play a long innings”.

I believe you Hassan. In fact, I look forward to the day when you’ll finally graduate from the youngster category.

One can only hope that men from all these categories; the youngsters, the crazies, the useless boys,etc. can find their salvation and inner peace in the rocky world that is Pakistan cricket. Until they do, one can only be a curious, helpless and often exasperated spectator to their peculiar antics and hope that they do not cause us too much embarrassment along the way.


About Assad Hasanain
Follow me on twitter @LeftArmAround

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