Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why Kamran stays by Imran Yusuf

The top 10 possible reasons why Pakistan's keeper has retained his position despite four and a half years of drops, missed stumpings, allegations of corruption, and remarks about his physical appearance

1. It's the biggest hustle in history

Kamran has set you up. Come squeaky-bum time, i.e. the quarters and beyond, batsmen will poke outside off and dance down the wicket without a care in the world, secure that the Pakistan keeper will fluff everything that comes his way. But the real Kamran will suddenly emerge, taking impossible stumpings and diving catches like a brown Ian Healy on PCP. Of course, pigs might fly too, and Bal Thackeray might garland the Pakistan team on the streets of Mumbai, and Ravi Shastri might complete a sentence without a cliché.

2. Sheer national arrogance
Having already won a World Cup, Pakistan want a challenge. They want to make a statement that will last for eternity. They want to leapfrog the Spartans in the pantheon of mythic warrior-victors. What better way to do this than by winning with the worst wicketkeeper in the history of all cricket in all places, including back gardens, grungy alleyways and long office corridors.

3. Chopsticks
There must be something Kamran has done to have convinced five captains and numerous selection committees to give him a go. It might be a circus trick in training, behind closed doors, an act of genius that hypnotises otherwise sensible men, such as Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohsin Khan. Or maybe he once had a long Chinese lunch with Ijaz Butt and did a Mr Miagi. That would fool anyone, especially a fool.

4. He scored a series-winning Test century against India from 39 for 6
Get under the skin of India and you're set for life in Pakistan. (Shoaib Malik seems to be an extreme exception to this rule.)

5. Brotherly love
Umar Akmal has become essential to Pakistan's middle order, providing much-needed impetus and energy. He might've said he won't play unless Kamran is in the side, thus picking one of two options available to Pakistani brothers: either love each other a little too much with unstinting loyalty, or squabble over the family inheritance and communicate exclusively in fistfights.

6. He's just going through a bad patch
Anyone who watched Barcelona last night will seriously consider if this is the best team in the history of club football. Yet Barcelona didn't win La Liga between 2000 and 2004. Now recall that four years ago Kamran was all set to be the best keeper-batsman in the world. Cricket world, I present Kamran Akmal: Mes Que Un Keeper.

7. Monopoly
The last three men to keep wicket for Pakistan were all Akmals. Along with blasphemy and copyright, the country might also consider tweaks to its laws about fair competition.

8. A Waqar masterplan
In an attempt to encourage his team to bowl straight, coach Waqar Younis has insisted on persevering with a keeper less likely to take a catch than Geoffrey Boycott's grandmother. Waqar took 56% of his international wickets either bowled or lbw. Perhaps he is being a little too didactic in his "do as I did" ways. I mean, come on Waqar, they're not ten-year-olds. (Having said that, I have not checked Ahmed Shehzad's birth certificate; his shot selection certainly indicates a pre-pubescent mindset.)

9. He's actually a "kali bakri"
Pakistanis are a spiritual people - and superstitious. Kamran is there to condense all the evil energy directed at the team into one person. He's a tough little munchkin and he can take it. Thus the team can excel, free of all bad vibes, while Kamran gets the nation's goat.

10. His replacement ran away to a curry house in England in fear of organised crime
This sentence looks absurd but it is here, friends, that the jokes come to a crashing stop and reality intercedes. We might just have been stumped by the most plausible explanation.

Imran Yusuf is a writer who takes guard on middle and off

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