Posts Tagged ‘ul’

Some players are natural greats.  Others are greats, but everyone forgets because they have another defining feature.  Of these, a fair proportion bring it on themselves.  It pains me to think that Gary Lineker will be known as “that bloke of the crisp advert” to most people under the age of 18.  It sometimes needs to be remembered just how good these players were.

Inzamam was a wonderful batsman, a player able to bully the opposition as easily as he would grind them down.  Despite that, he will forever be the man to prove that an athlete need not have any semblance of physical fitness.  For that, I love him.

Watching Inzy bat compared to watching him do everything else was incredible.  His footwork, so slow and cumbersome while in the field or trying to grab a non-existent single, would suddenly transform to silky smooth when faced with any poor spinner unlucky enough to stand in his way.  His biggest innings came against New Zealandin 2002 when he thumped a vicious 329 at Lahore.  By the end of it he could barely stand up, let alone run, but did that stop him?  Did it hell.  He simply moved into stand and deliver mode and belted the ball through the covers and over long on.

Of course, the running and the fielding were a joy to behold.  Then there was the inventive way he managed to get out at times.  I have seen him run out without actually running at all.  He has also been out obstructing the field, falling on his stumps and jumping over the ball to be run out (unfairly admittedly).  The class clown element just added to his cult, especially because of his expressionless, hang-dog trudge to the pavilion afterwards.

But it sometimesdetracts from him, and it really shouldn’t.  Type Inzamam into YouTube and you have to search a good way down to find one that isn’t there for the laughs.  It’s easy to forget that when he was in the zone, he was so, SO good.  Inzy was at his absolute best when the pressure was ramped up purely because he let nothing faze him. 

Two innings in heart-pumping one wickets victories bookmark his career.  In 1994, the young Pakistani batting down at 8 in the order somehow won the unwinnable against Australia.  With Pakistan down and out, he put on 57 with Mushtaq for the last wicket to end up 58*.  Then, 9 years later, Inzamam the captain made an unbeaten 138 against Bangladesh to spare the blushes of a nation and drag his team over the line once again.  All done with the expression of a man who had been disrupted from reading the paper.

The lasting image of Inzamam came in 2006.  While all around him fell in a swirl of ball tampering rumours, he remained in the centre of it all, impassive and stony-faced. And there it was – a man of Zen-like calmness, impervious to any situation that was thrown at him.  While his country lurched from crisis to crisis on an almost monthly basis, Inzamam stood as a hero both in Pakistan and around the world for good reason.  And it certainly isn’t just because he has got a bit of a belly and a quite brilliant beard.


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