Okay, so we didn’t win the World Cup. But during the six-week long, topsy-turvy roller-coaster ride through cricket’s most prized and hyped extravaganza, we managed to discover an abundance of cricketing talent.
No, I’m not talking of players. I’m referring to the glut of sagacious, incisive and highly competent cricket experts who descended on us during the mega-event. Has-been, discarded cricketers regaled us with their profound cricketing know-how during the brief pauses between ceaseless commercials swaddling all world cup live telecasts. They also hogged the sports pages of most major dailies, offering pearls of cricketing wisdom in (mostly) ghost-written columns. We should be glad. So what if we couldn’t land the Cup itself; we unearthed, instead, a cornucopia of cricketing expertise other countries can only dream of. Let’s recap some of the gems these commentators scattered during the Cup.
• “To make a big score,” one wise ex-captain remarked, “you need big partnerships.” Ah, and we thought we could get away with smaller ones! If only the team had heeded the expert’s advice.
• “We should play to our strengths,” another advised. Given the imminent possibility of playing to our weaknesses, or to our opponents’ strengths, it’s very valid advice indeed.
• “The back-lift of Unique Khan is not high enough. He should bring his bat down at 89⁰ instead of 94.5⁰ and try to hit the ball on the volley with a high back-lift using the front foot without moving his back foot more than 15 cm away to from front one, and of course with the toes firmly grounded at the edge of the popping crease and both knees bent at 67⁰.” Poor Unique Khan. No wonder he failed miserably.
• “Shabby Akhtar is way past his prime. He can’t bowl more than two overs without losing his breath, his control, and sometimes his mind. He really should shorten his run-up to less than 1 metre and shine the white ball with sweat on one side and scuff it up some 3 mm beside the seam on the other side and bend his right elbow at 38⁰ while bowling, making sure his right foot lands flat and hard halfway across the crease and the left foot remains no farther than 21 cm away from it. He should do all that or just retire!”
Shabby, guess you made the right choice.
• “What is Whacky Younis thinking? That’s no way to coach a team. He should impose strict discipline: training from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm followed by a strict curfew and of course no booze, soft drinks, women or drag queens. And regular prayers, five times a day! Only then can you win the Cup.”
Well, coach, maybe you should consider growing that beard back.
• “Shoddy Afridi is a good captain but he doesn’t attack enough. And when he attacks he doesn’t defend enough. And when he does both, he does neither enough. He should play according to the situation. He should attack when he’s attacking, and defend when he’s not. Also, he should defend when defending, and attack when he’s not. He should always bring in the close ring fielders, except when he pulls them back. And he should always pull them back except when he’s bringing them in. If he can’t follow these simple rules, he’s a really shoddy skipper and should step down. Unless he wants to step up to the challenge and...”
Shoddy, no wonder you lost, man.
• “Of course we’ll win the Cup,” an upbeat expert enthused. “All we have to do is to work really hard and beat everyone in the competition. It’s simple. The Cup is ours!”
If it were a competition for the cleverest cricket critics, the Cup would’ve indeed been ours.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, April 17th, 2011.
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