Monday, February 7, 2011

In loving memory: Mohammad Amir

Broken wings, clipped
It is restful, tragedy, because one knows that there is no more lousy hope left. You know you're caught, caught at last like a rat with all the world on its back. And the only thing left to do is shout -- not moan, or complain, but yell out at the top of your voice whatever it was you had to say. What you've never said before. What perhaps you don't even know till now. - Jean Anouilh

Tragedies are painful to bear. Even more so when they are accompanied with a misery-ridden letdown. They hit with a force so instantaneous and ferocious that enduring them becomes a strenuous battle. A coherent mix of self-denial, shredded emotions and an essence of failure instills in you and it takes time for you to absorb all of it till the reality sinks in eventually. I don't really know what exactly to write here. I have been trying to bring myself to it but I just keep losing the gist of all that has been coalescing with my thought processes. Maybe, its my inability to deal with a loss of something dear, be it in the form of sports; or perhaps the interminable suffering that comes with it.

One can term the story of Mohammad Amir as The calamity of cricket or anything one could relate his catastrophic narrative with, I know it would not suffice. Even all the Shakespearean tragedies feel mellow somehow when I compare them with his. And some of them even have a second coming. But at the end of the day, that is mostly fiction and his is an actuality. However, I can't help but wish the truth that circumscribes all this is stranger than the reality which has surfaced. The inscription on his cricket epitaph has potentially been done, ultimately terminating an embracing attachment on personal level. 

So what precisely is it that makes a person like me take him with such reverence?
His prodigious yet scarcely believable life story? Him being a product of a village unknown to the world, the life threatening dengue fever when he was 15 and having glucose drips 24 hours a day, the cricket upbringing under local coaches and the rest that's related to him coming into the international scene. For most people it maybe, but for me, it was just a filling for the backdrop of what was to be a scintillating affiliation for couple of cricket seasons. Maybe, a simple Wikipedia entry of him may help to complete the thorough picture. It was the Wasim Akram analogy, yes. 
Reliving the legend

If the selection of Amir by Wasim in 2007 for the England U-19 tour was anything to go by, watching him in the 2009 T20 World Cup was the point where he became a subject of genuine interest. In all honesty, it was this reverse swing spell (into 6 mins) in Dunedin, late 2009, that cast the demeanor of permanence in him. Moving it both ways and with remarkable precision, he had already learnt to make the old ball talk like a gnarled old pro, alongwith a shrewd control over the new one. Even the old masters of reverse swing would have been proud of it.  It was mesmerizing to watch and there was a widespread belief already that the cricket world has the next great southpaw after Wasim in making. Till this day, he had been giving hints of what he had to offer, be it the 2009 T20 World Cup in England where he was unearthed for the first time or the test series against Sri Lanka, but this was special. It was simply Wasim-like. This did it for me.

MCG was set alight the very next month with a five-for and made the Aussies notice him, and who better than them to evaluate a rising star in the game? He was easily the lone positive of a shambolic Pakistan tour down under. The T20 World Cup in West Indies and Asia Cup followed, and he was constantly getting polished and rising up the rating scale.

Then came the English summer which was being tipped as the most significant in Pakistani cricket history. With multiple series lined up against two of the world's best sides, he could not have asked for a more grand stage to play on. It started at Edgbaston in the T20 and I was there to watch the kid. He spearheaded the attack in presence of Akhtar and Gul, and we knew we had the best fast bowling line up in the world, and it sure was. Watching him knock those stumps and sending the Aussies back was an absolute treat. They were knocked off the perch with a series sweep 2-0. It was sweet mayhem.

On the electronic scoreboard at Headingley.
Photo by Masuud Qazi
And now it was time for the real examination of his monumental cricketing talent - white clothes, red duke cherry, overcast English summer and a world class  opposition. He didn't take long to make waves, sending one exocet after another, demolishing the Aussies at Headingley with such command that they were on their knees and every single wicket of his still remains a treasured memory. Who would forget the consecutive cleaning up of Smith and Johnson? It was a relentless display of an outrageous and overwhelming talent. It was sheer raw flair and natural brilliance. Pakistan won a test match after 15 years against Australia and he was the fulcrum of that victory. And I was in the stands seeing him speak in the post-match ceremony. At my cricket club, folks of all ages were talking about his genius; it was soothing and it all felt like a perfect script for the cricket summer.

By experience and numbers in years and matches, he was dominating, outwitting and seducing men into batting blunders who were years and, in some cases, decades senior to him. It felt he was doing poetry with that ball so masterfully that it would move in whichever direction where he wanted it to. His intimidation of the opposition was so brutally awe-striking that you could be sure it was a divine wonder to behold. It was so visible that the world was his oyster. He had lit up a cricket summer in one hemisphere of the planet few months back and he was doing it in an even better way in the other just a few months later. His name was being inked in the record books and was anticipated to write them for years to come. He was blowing opposition batting line ups, be it The Oval or Lord's, with merciless zest. On track to become the poster boy of world cricket and of many a bedrooms walls, he had the world at his feet.
There was nothing he couldn't wish for and do
Television commercials and product endorsements were all lined up for him. Kids and men were awestruck with his precocious talent and mastery at such a tender age. Women of all age were going crazy on him and he was the latest obsession of Pakistanis. Wasim bhai was being made proud with every performance of his. Everything was as perfect as it could be in the world encircling an 18 year old prodigy.

Then disaster struck at the very home of cricket. Amidst a surreal spell of fast bowling in which he sliced and diced the English top order in a manner rarely seen in modern cricket, he committed a cardinal sin which was to have severe repercussions later on, ones which would never make him perform on any cricketing platform practically. Maybe I will fail to address what and why he committed the dreadful career suicide by overstepping that white line though the world may talk forever what it was. Whether it was the fallacy of a few thousand quids casting the devilish spell of whose ramifications his fledgling head couldn't decipher, only Amir knows. Or was it the moronic grooming of the dirty bastard Salman But and the serial absconder Asif under both of whom he was during those damned days and horribly became a prey of, every citation seems secondary. The mind goes numb when he and his aura are envisaged. He came across as a harmless soul bent only to perform at his best in those flannels. Like a schoolboy who was punctual, tidy and efficient in his grades and extra-curricula. Like a young folklore hero destined to achieve greatness and creating a unparalleled legacy. And somehow everything fell apart.

That Saturday of August 28 will forever haunt; it just has too much of pain buried in it. Apart from the day being a devastating one for Pakistan cricket performance-wise, the night theoretically broke the psychedelic bond between him and me, the music of another coming of Wasim Akram died for me, and my revived hallucinogenic passion for the game took a massive hammering. Practically, all this culminated on February 5th, 2011. It signaled the heartbreak for an intimate love affair of the sincerest form which had connections on a spiritual level and subsequently reopened cracks which will bleed perpetually.

Amir, I will be deadly honest with you. I have tried a lot in the last 5 months or so of giving my mind the maximum luxury of digression off you, conjuring countless thoughts related to the abundance of cricketing talent Pakistan has and that there won't ever be a stoppage of world class fast bowlers production but here my mind ceases to imagine; and that is when I make miserable attempts that there maybe another Amir waiting in the ranks. No, its just not practically possible. I know it, we all know it who felt you cast those holy essences. You were special to the world for what you were. It may get over and forget you, and never allow you a go at redemption but buddy, you will remain dear to me. As dear as anything in cricket I could relate to. Thanks for giving the immortal memories and for making me and millions relive Waz.

So long, champ.

-

This BBC interview added a day later.
This one isn't easy. For you, I'll just ask to look into his eyes. Maybe he really doesn't know what's happened and is happening (in another interview to Geo news, his state was similar- shell shocked). This is a heartbreak of a lifetime.


- This post was first published here at Clear Cricket.

63 comments:

Yasir Shah said...

This was really heartfelt... wish he had not done it!!!such a great talent lost forever ...

Anonymous said...

i think I had moist eyes by the end of it.you should not have done this... how a kid who was destined greatness is lost. whyyy??? miss him!!!!

ShahRukh said...

Reposting it here..

"Epilogue sums it all up..!!
It’s like .. u can’t defend the dissemblance of amir publicly but still you can’t have control to hate him for that too…like a short inning of lala, who mesmerize u initially and then even his reckless dismissal couldn’t make u hate him just becoz of that groovy cameo.
Thanks bro for writing this, this will always help me reigniting my love for Amir…!!
Keep Writing (Y)"

Yumna said...

It really hurts. It is the only Amir post I have read in recent times. And it would make any Aamir fan emo :|
He will be back. It will not be 5 years.

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt at all that Amir was a Wasim Akram in making and also correctly termed as the Legend' analogy. Indeed he walked in the footsteps of his Idol, by getting into the gambling/fixing business so early in his career, but sadly his wasn't as lucky as the legend in his time proved to be. Another thing point people are making in his favor is his age, which is actually vague ab initio. Current Pakistan Captain, Shahid Afridi himself admitted that it's a normal practice in Pakistan cricket that almost every player tempers with the age to increase one' chances to stay longer in the Sports. What sort of justice is it that you blame everything on the other two and acquit Mr.Amir, just because he is talented and is similar to a guy you love? If age and innocence are mitigating factors for Mr. Amir than there is mitigating factor for other "TWO" as well. "To Err is human and to Forgive is Divine"

Masuud said...

One, I didn't blame anything on the duo, Butt and Asif. No one is, in fact. The point of focus is their influence over him, which ended up too heavy for him.

Two, he has been handed over a 5 year ban, which practically is the end of a cricketing career. Even a club cricketer would tell you, there's not a percentage of comeback when you're out of the game for such a period without participation in any format and level. There are CPS charges still on him, whose prosecution may take months, if not years.
Still not enough to put him to rest?

Take this. I never wanted him to be scot-free. There has to be an example crafted out of his genius, even if it breaks hearts. That coming after all those years of Mark Waugh, Shane Warne getting joke punishments of being in the match fixing business. Compare theirs, Marlon Samuels, Herschelle Gibbs and all those who were handed bans and then still played the game, to his. You'll get the parallels. There bare just no parallels since those were punishments given out by respective boards, not ICC. Because of which there have been calls for the amendment of the law, even its inclusion. Hence, making this a more of a severe treatment to him especially, and that's a neutral feel. Whatever be the case, he's been done with. And this one was more of a personal attachment note to him than his defense in any sorts.

Thanks for the feedback.

Masuud said...

Yasir, Shahrukh, Yumna and Anon.
Cheers for the feedback, guys.

DeepCover said...

If I was Salman Butt, I would think twice before looking into the mirror. Such a cunning cock he turned out to be when the we were thinking we have an articulate speaker from Pakistan. You guys needn't worry, that country never has a full stop when it comes to quality fast bowlers. I absolutely respect your dedication to him. Sad loss to the world but something which had to be done.

waqas younus paracha said...

loathsome as it may sound but you gotta admit...when people compared wasim to aamir, they forgot one most basic comparision!!!! in high time wasim got banned from captaining the Pakistan team ever again and that too from Justice Qayyum who said he was very linient with the guy due to the utmost respect and liking he had for him due to his performance....the only difference is wasim got caught at a much later age and the idiot aamir got caught quite earlier in his time....Give credits to the enormous duas and supplications the whole nation made for aamir who can still come back into playing form with a bang!!!!in my opinion all the three players should be hanged PUBLICLY for selling out national pride!!!! and their performance whatever it is can kiss my bare behind anytime....I am an anti afridi and will always be because I hate him technically and just as a player!!!! but give due credit to the guy about whom dear Mazhar Majeed also said that he is an honest person and doesnt get involved into this!!!!

so you see nothing is all bad as it seems!!!

Kam said...

"Even all the Shakespearean tragedies feel mellow somehow when I compare them with his."

LOL!

Are you kidding me?! You must have been high or delusional :)

Nabeel said...

Damn you,Masuud Qazi, damn you. You brought it all back again - all the pain, all the heartbreak, all the massive disappointment of seeing a young man bowl the entire England top order into submission and then have to listen to their taunts as he faced Swann the next day. Damn you!

Emclub said...

Finally made up the courage and read this.....emotional attyachaar kar ditta a tu mundya :((((

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