Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society


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This piece appears in the September 2014 issue of Herald

People hate me when I say this; so I’ll say it again: I have an abiding revulsion for cricket. And I’m not on about the cricket that goes ‘whirrrrr’ on wet, dewy monsoon nights. It is about this thing that I refuse to call a sport where some loonies in white dresses stand in the blazing sun for hours on end – sometimes days too (and weeks as well?) – hardly ever moving a muscle.

Two of them carry the thhapa, that short club that women used to beat the dirt out of their laundry. But that was before they invented washing machines. And since with this invention the thhapa became redundant, it was put to other use by ne’er to well loafers: they took to flogging balls with it. Cricket was invented and life was never the same again.

So, this bunch of kooks with their thhapas and sticks (which for some reason odd are called ‘wickeds’) get out in the midday sun and spend the whole day there until their brains melt and flow out of their noses. Now since all of them out in the midday sun are not Englishmen, I suspect most are just mad dogs.

While the two thhapa men and the one with the ball have a pretence to some activity every now and again as they jog between their two sets of wickeds, those standing at various ‘silly points’ around the ground have only to pick their noses and watch the grass grow. I promise you I once met one of these idlers who told me that for want of anything better to do during the match he had measured a day’s rate of growth with a vernier caliper. He had even worked out a daily growth average over two weeks.

He also said that he was actually a bird watcher but because of the cutting of trees in Lahore and the resultant depletion of bird species, he had taken to being a cricketer. Here he occasionally got to see blue rock pigeons lighting on the green and had become quite conversant with their courtship and mating procedures. He said he was half way through writing a book titled, On the rate of growth of Grass and the love life of Blue Rock Pigeons.

Now, we’ve never expected anything good from foolish young men and so the behaviour of these louts in white is understandable. But what gets my goat is that pair of geriatrics on the ground. They are basically religious teachers because from time to time they raise a finger skyward in the gesture of sages going, ‘Allah aik hai!’ Other than this little bit of activity, you’d think they had long ago succumbed to decrepitude and were somehow defying gravity.

Don’t even ask me how I know the two geriatrics are actually evangelists. Why, from the exponentially growing number of bearded players and those who recite lengthy religious formulae before they can utter so much as a single insensible word, there can be no other possibility about the oldies.

I reckon my carping against this so-called sport over the years has brought about one change. They have now invented a Tea-Twenty version of cricket. In the old days, players could have tea only six times during the match day. Although it is another thing they could have their charpais brought out for a nap, but tea was only so many times and no more.

My informant tells me that in this new version of cricket, they will serve a proper sit down tea – with scones, muffins and cucumber sandwiches no less – every twenty minutes. All this on the ground in full view of the spectators. Hence Tea-Twenty. He also tells me that each so-called player bearded or otherwise, will have to drink twenty cups in each tea party. Anyone shirking on that will be declared out; cheating will call for disqualification until the next tea party in twenty minutes. In preparation for this new version of cricket, the boundary rope around the ground is being replaced with a circle of urinals in stadiums across the world.

Going back to Englishmen and mad dogs, the only creatures to be found in the midday sun, we have some mad dogs in Pakistani politics. May the good Lord help us all. 

PS: My friend Haroun Rashid was a player of the game in his youth and is now an ardent follower. When he reads this, he’ll come for me with his shotgun. I hope he is as bad with the gun as he was with the thhapa. Else this is my Requiem.

Related: Oh no, not cricket again

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 10 September 2014 at 18:09, Anonymous Muhammad Athar said...

Sir you have an art to say thing with out being notice by any one and develop a story for the interest of the reader

At 10 September 2014 at 21:53, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting set of opinons. Enjoyed reading. P.S. this comes from an ardent fan of the game

At 10 September 2014 at 22:03, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a good historian and writer but cricket? You need to understand the game sir.

At 12 September 2014 at 21:38, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Poor Anonymous! Life must be a drudge without a sense of humour!
Imran, no set of opinions. This is just a jibe at the game. Loosen up, kid. Take humour for what it is.

At 14 September 2014 at 12:14, Blogger Nayyar Julian said...

Haha. Haha.


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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days