The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Monday, November 28, 2005
Lahore heroes
by Peter

Several of my early cricket heroes were Pakistanis. The first day of first-class cricket I ever watched featured a century from Sadiq Mohammed - if he hadn´t been there I might never have gone back.

There were a few who didn´t play for Gloucestershire - Imran Khan (who I first saw in a benefit game at Arle Court) and Javed Miandad (who I remember as young, skinny and an athletic out-fielder).

But the big two for me were obviously Sadiq (short, rather rotund, combative when batting, a smile on his face when he wasn´t) and the legendary Zaheer Abbas.

Zaheer was best of them all. I can´t think of a more graceful batman. He never seemed to hit the ball hard, but he scored a huge number of runs in boundaries.
I think there were four occasions when he scored a double century and a century in the same match. I watched him do it twice: once at Cheltenham and once at Bath.

He played all the shots, but his trademark was for me the cut that would streak past gully's left hand and curve into the boundary boards at wide third man.

So it was always an ambition for me to go and watch Pakistan play at Lahore - in front of a huge and enthusiastic crowd. The ideal time to go would have been to see Zaheer's final big test score - 168 against India.

In fact I have watched one afternoon of Test cricket in Pakistan. About ten years ago I spent a few weeks working in Islamabad and Quetta. I managed to clear one afternoon of meetings and took off to the ground in Rawalpindi, where Pakistan were playing Zimbabwe. The crowd were quiet and decorous, and the play was rather quiet too - Pakistan rebuilding the innings after losing a clutch of wickets while the taxi took me to the ground. (The taxi driver had been listening to the game on his radio: when he heard where I was going, he decided to come with me). Lahore, I am sure, would be noisier.

A friend of mine, a Frenchman who tried to teach me the language, once told me that he found the idea that England lost regularly at cricket to ex-colonies very amusing. I prefer that it doesn´t happen too often, but it doesn´t strike me as the worst thing in the world.

I wish I could be there at Lahore tomorrow. I´ll be hoping for an England win, but without too much hope. And I´ll be happy to applaud the efforts of the new Pakistani heroes.

(This post first appeared on a voice from the Shed)
posted by Peter Pigeon @ 4:18 pm  
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