Tag Archives: Zaheer Abbas

Cricket, Meet the Millennials

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England’s turmoil in Australian is unmasking some good old crisis-induced cognitive dissonance. (Pace Stayte and thanks for the image)

Over at Cricinfo, England’s performance at Adelaide elicited a broadside from George Dobell listing factors that, in his opinion, have weakened English cricket.

He is especially harsh on even tries to sledge young cricketers, writing that, “The decision to rid the domestic scene of non-England-qualified players and offer young player incentives saw a generation of experienced professionals replaced by kids who should have been forced to work harder for a career in the game.” (TM’s underlining)

Yet there is general admiration for the way Joe Root handled Mitchell Johnson’s verbal as well as his physical assaults.

Fewer people seem to have noticed the similarly disarming stage yawn with which Ben Stokes countered Johnson’s histrionics and sent ‘the old man’ off on one.

Nothing you can do can ‘mentally disintegrate’ a person who, in terms of the cultural and social environment you and they have grown up in, is to all intents and purposes of a different genus.

You might as well try sledging a duck? Or a cow? Or a tortoise?

They just find you mildly amusing AND because the cultural and social environment that they inhabit – and to which you are a total stranger – is a world of Instagram and Snapchat where Messenger is as far back in time as Linear B there’s:

Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It’s easy.
There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you
in time – It’s easy.

“Thank you John.”

You see, there’s a dividing line that runs roughly through 1990.  Anyone born before this is, as far as anyone born after it, FROM ANOTHER PLANET.

Cricket – Meet the Millennials.

They’re going to surprise you and, not just because of their imperviousness to antediluvian sledging, they are going to be fun to follow.

A CBS news feature reports, “The workplace has become a psychological battlefield and the millennials have the upper hand, because they are tech savvy, with every gadget imaginable almost becoming an extension of their bodies. They multitask, talk, walk, listen and type, and text. And their priorities are simple: they come first.”

In cricket, the Millennials have been coming up against overseas pros like Ol’ Man Johnson from the age of 14 in their premier leagues.  They have been playing with and against each other from the age of 11. The weak ones, the ones that couldn’t react with a rye ‘smile’ or impertinent ‘yawn’ or as one young lad did to huge effect: blow the big angry fast bowler a kiss; have already been weeded out.

Dobell underestimates the heat of the fire in which these young cricketers have been forged. Why should they flaunt it? Would they expect a duck, a cow or a tortoise to understand them?

The other thing that separates them from every cricketer that has gone before is not just their ways of relating to each other it is the different types of cricket they have had to learn to play: 5 day, 4 day, 3 day, 1 day and T20. For them cricket is a hoot-n-nanny of ever changing opportunities to experience delight. There is no fear – perpetual and unconditional parental approval has given them a rare freedom.

These changing formats also bring difficulties.  Their hands are low, they slap, they are often strangers to their ‘elbows’, they only know relatively light bats with massive sweet spots – their edges fly over the ropes – light bats? Well, look at their physiques.  They can wield a 2:10 with the same bat-speed and dexterity with which the great Zaheer Abbas flicked his 2:4. They could be quick – very quick – if the ducks and cows and tortoises give them their head – and the rotations they can put on the ball will make it turn on a billiard table.

That is why England cricket doesn’t need globe-trotting hacks from the paleolithic, Mr Dobell.  It needs to give these born entertainers space to learn and develop and take the game where no one born before 1985 can imagine,   (Look what those Millennials from Lancashire did in 2011?)

The nearest that fossils over 24 can get to it, is to imagine what it was like when they first heard the rest of those Lennon lyrics:

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
All you need is love (all together now)
All you need is love (everybody)
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

Johnson, Love is All You Need.

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Paradise Regained – The Return to Eden: Window on the Whirled Cup I

Third Man’s World Cup Blimp – a non rigid, buoyant airship – will after all be seen at Eden Gardens, provided you view the tournament from the window of his Time Machine – note the early and tantalising view recently glimpsed above.

ICC inspectors have given the thumbs up to three world cup matches at Eden Gardens in March.

But this great coliseum of cricket, that holds in excess of 100,000 people, will not stage one of the few eagerly awaited first round ties: resurgent England against indomitable India.

Their match scheduled for 27th February will now take place in Bangalore where the non-rigid, bouyant Mayor has already made known his lengthy list of required freebees.

The 2011 World Cup is a massive test for the ICC after the last event staged in the West Indies left so many questions unanswered: odd and questionable results, over priced tickets and wasteful redevelopment that replaced warm vital heritage with concrete, sand and chillingly soulless stadia.

Cricket does not respond well to austerity.  The 50 over format is losing support.  The need to help emerging nations but at the same time maintain interest at the start of the competition is a difficult if not impossible balancing act.

Tournaments have really only been successful when the very best of the world’s cricketers have produced radical reinterpretations of the game that gave rise to transformative strategies, changing for the better the way the game is played at every level and in every form.

This was the case thanks to the early West Indian campaigns which not only brought forth great innings by Kanhai and Lloyd who in the first final came together at a rocky 50 – 3 and put on a total of 149 but also gave rise to the unyielding Australian response that got within 17 runs of their the then massive 292 run target. 

Or the response the Caribbean side’s 1979 Oval semi-final score of 293 for 6  engendered from Pakistan’s Majid and Zaheer who accelerated with breathtaking elegance from 10 – 1 to 176 before Zed was dismissed by Croft for 93, challenging the hitherto hegemony of power with their graceful wristy stroke-play.

It was also the case in 1983 when India showed how to defend a meagre total of 183 when their six bowlers confined the brightest of batsmen: Greenidge, Haynes, Richards and Lloyd, to three runs an over and defeat by 43 runs in an innovative orchestration of pressure that achieve the most unexpected of victories. 

And finally, in1996 at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, it was also the stage on which the Sri Lankans unveiled ‘fearless’ cricket with their blistering, relentless jaw-dropping counterattacks, match after match. 

Cricket would never be the same after Sri Lanka, chasing Australia’s 241 and having they had lost the explosive Jayasuriya to a run out, and his fellow opener Kaluwitharana for 23,  de Silva and Gurusinha continued their by previous standards reckless assault on McGrath, Fleming, Warne and Reiffel to blow Australia away with twenty balls to spare.

Each of these moments created by the World Cup were turning points in the history of cricket – some were pure innovations, others the rediscovery of lost approaches but each were felt by those watching or listening across the globe to be pivotal turning points through gates into a new Eden, where a fresh conception of what cricketers could achieve changed the nature of cricket itself.

That role of hot house laboratory appears now to have moved to the T20 arena. It could be that the innovations of 120 ball, 10 wicket innings will find a powerful new expression in the 50 over format over the coming month.  If not, then, its undisguised purpose will be that of a cash cow providing a few corporate freebies for the likes of the Mayor of Bangalore.

In his 1941 essay “The Lion and the Unicorn“, George Orwell referred to a stereotype he nicknamed the Blimps who he characterised as having lost their vitality over the previous thirty years, “writhing impotently under the changes that were happening.”

The next forty days and forty nights will tell whether Third Man’s World Cup Blimp is an accurate charactisation or whether the tournament that once regularly replenished the eternal springs of cricket is once again “the potent fountain for the changes that are happening” and cricketers and cricket lovers once again regain Paradise through the Gates of Eden.

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The Future of the Circle Line

Support for Third Man’s campaign to restore the Circle Line to its rightful place has been strengthened today by Diogenes’s accurate recollection that Zaheer Abbas, a true Prince among batsmen, had quite a circular back lift. 

TM would classify it as at least from Paddington to Sloane Square on the Circle Line.

Please enjoy this wonderful clip of ‘Z’ and Majid putting on 166 in the 1979 World Cup Semi-final.  A Slow-Mo early on gives a good view of the backlift and was that Bill Alley umpiring?

YouTube fans of Zaheer are legion.  Below he scores 108 off 110 against Australia in the B&H Cup 1981, this time wearing specs.

And for addicts here he makes 118 off 86 balls against India in an ODI at Multan in 1982.

You may also notice his ‘dip’ of the body just before the ball is delivered.  This too is frowned on by conventional coaches because of the danger of moving the head and of shifting balance.  But Lara dipped as well.  Does it set the batsmen who use it into a sprung coil from which they release themselves into the shot?

UNIMPORTANT FACT: Third Man once stayed in Z’s Bristol home in ’73 or ’74, though, the Master Batsman knew very little about it, however he can put on record how very sweet about it he was.  By his deed of kindness shall he be known.

IMPORTANT FACT: Zaheer used a very light bat, never more than 2lb 4oz might at times have been 2/2.

TM is looking for a copy of George Headley’s stance.  A photograph is pictured on the ESPN Leg Ends of Cricket link given yesterday, but it doesn’t appear easy to find.  Any clues, anyone?

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