Imran Khan was a household name when growing up. And 1983 Prudential World Cup is etched in memory as Kapil Dev brought home the famous trophy. That night my mother rejoiced the most. I saw her picking up the poster of Imran Khan which had been purposely laid on the floor by one of the pranksters in the house. It was a way of saying ‘down you go Pakistan’. Such expressions are not uncommon in a household of cricket lovers. They can carry their fanaticism to an extreme, especially when it involves two sparring neighbours - India and Pakistan.
After that, cricket for me lost its charm. The game got embroiled in so many match-fixing scams that every time I looked at the television, I asked myself if I was watching a match for whom the punters have laid a huge bet or if the guys on the field were genuinely competing. Little wonder then, when I met Shahid Afridi yesterday evening I knew so little about the man except for having a blurred image of his face downcast when his team lost the World Cup semis to India this year. I didn’t miss that one. After all, an India-Pakistan World Cup final is a bloody mother of all games!
After Sachin Tendulkar, Javagal Srinath and now Afridi, I can say my cricket connection is not totally on the decline. I can boast to have met three heroes of cricket even though I may not know the game like the back of my palm. As to what transpired between Afridi and me after the meeting, nothing extra curious except that for most of my questions he said will have to get to the management for permission. I was beginning to think what a spineless sportsman for all the brouhaha surrounding the visit, when the waiter ferrying drinks in the room chose to trip near me splashing cold sweet drinks on my feet. My thoughts were rudely interrupted and I left the room which had become a sticky patch. I left home wondering: cricketers have become glamour kings; is there enough glamour left in the game!