When I look back on my career as a gully cricketer eons ago, there are two players who have gone on to play the game in its highest form whom I identify with. I have already written about the Malang Man earlier. I now write about the other legend who has done our breed proud, Shahid Afridi aka Boom Boom alias Lala!
One of the fundamental rules in gully cricket as I have mentioned earlier too is there are no rules. Afridi is the most accomplished practitioner of this dictum as none before him could and I presume none after him can. ‘See ball will hit’ would possibly be the most apt description of him. It doesn’t matter if he is opening the batting, playing in the middle or bringing up the tail. So too irrespective of whether the team is in strong position or needs to rebuild. And not to forget the so called cognoscenti who distinguish between Tests, ODI or T20. Shahid Bhai’s gaadi has only one gear, fifth! In gully cricket parlance we see no distinction between formats, status of the inning or the competence of the other batsman. We just go out with only a Ghuen Tak or a Chak De Phatte on mind when we bat. And none does it better than Lala! Mera Lala sabse ala!
|Start! 5th Gear! Vrooom!|
Once I got out of childhood and joined the rat race, there was immense pressure on me to improve. Get the right increment here, eye that promotion there. And in trying to do it, I was forced to learn more things, read, experiment, fine tune, improve. Essentially Think! How I wish I were Shahid Afridi! Not for our hero the complications of thinking! Not for him the required run rates, the condition of the pitch, the strength of the opposition, need to build partnership. Gosh! Thinking? Thinking is almost like doing engineering! Thinking is such a waste of time when you can ‘hit-out-or-get-out’! And who cares about critics who expect you to graduate and grow as a player! Who in their ignorance write reams of paper lecturing about technique, reading the game or playing high percentage shots! Chill man! It is a sport! Maaro! I am sure we the fans know better. I mean those huge 6s, those agricultural shots which puts the bowler and the fielders under your mercy. And fast. So what if you succeed only once every Eid and once more on Diwali. Adrenalin is everything. As is a dash of romance! While I am no longer the child I was, Shahid Bhai has remained the child that he was and the child I wanted to.
|I am Back!!|
The most inspiring thing about Afridi is what I always wanted to do but was hugely scared of even attempting. One of the fundamental techniques to grow within an organization is blackmail. A subtle statement when the boss is within hearing distance about an offer from the competition or a resignation before the peak selling season invariably got you that much delayed promotion or increment. My fear was what if the boss got the message wrong and sacked me first or god forbid accepted my resignation? No such fear for our hero. Retire, retire again, retire once more, retire from tests, retire from ODI! Not for him the fear of the bosses. Every retirement only increased the clamour for a comeback! Each as spectacular in expectation as the next!
The exit of Pakistan from the ongoing World Cup brings us to yet another retirement of Shahid Khan Afridi. Au Revoir Lala! See you back sooner rather than later!
PS: Before Shahid Afridi was rightly bestowed with the nickname, Boom Boom was associated with Boris Becker. Still is I am told, in ninety percent of the world which doesn’t play our beautiful game!
Gaadi : Vehicle
Ghuen Tak : Hit It!
Chak De Phatte : Euphemism for Go for it!
Mera Lala Sabse Ala : My Lala is the best!
Maaro : Hit!
Bhai : Brother