Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The kamikaze boys

(Also on
How often have you joked with your friends about different facets of Pakistan cricket? The fact that not one of them has their correct age on record. That at any given point of time, they have five to eight current and former captains in their side. That most of them have wonky actions. That you can always count on them to self-destruct – a match is never lost even from the unlikeliest of positions if you’re playing Pakistan. And vice-versa of course.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Pakistan cricket. I love the country – especially Peshawar and the chapli kebabs there. And I have some awesome friends there.
But yes, Pakistan cricket and Pakistani cricketers are an enigma. Impossibly and inscrutably so. It baffles more often than it doesn’t.
Why else would you have a Parliamentarian come out and allege that the team’s captain had fixed a match in the Champions Trophy and then backtrack thrice to eventually say he had only wanted a probe to ensure no one thinks Pakistan had fixed any matches?
Why else would you have an obviously choreographed ‘courtroom’ drama in the senate of the nation where Younis Khan walks in with his resignation letter, which is not accepted but pocketed by his boss Ejaz Butt, followed by reports that Younis is happy to take back his resignation only if he is made captain till 2011?
So here’s a story that started with the T20 world champions losing in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy and being accused of match-fixing, and ending (temporarily) with the accused (Younis) demanding perks to take back his resignation! And being granted it.
And the intrigue all around is equally fascinating. Apparently, Shahid Afridi has been meeting Butt to try and become the ODI captain now. Afridi denies this. Butt denies this. But everyone thinks it’s true. So Younis is being sidelined? Possibly. Except that he is also on a strong enough wicket to demand the perks that he has.
But Pakistan cricket has always been like this. I mentioned earlier about the number of captains at any given time in the team. Add to that murmurs that at any given time, there are at least three factions in that team as well. One led by the current captain. The other two by people who are captaincy aspirants. Is this true? No one can say for sure, but ever since the days of Imran Khan, Zaheer Abbas and Javed Miandad, and later Wasim Akram, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Waqar Younis, people have whispered about this.
And the worst part of this story is that Pakistan cricket is on an upturn right now. That fabled factory has just given us Mohammad Aamer. The latest great spinner is out in the form of Saeed Ajmal. The team has just won the T20 World Championships. The team also looks fairly relaxed under Younis Khan, who has endeared himself to the media across the world with his innocence and earnestness.
But then, this is Pakistan cricket we are talking about…