The tenacious captain has won the Pakistan election Test. But for at least one constituency, that exists across the English-speaking world, the pitch has been queered. How many reverse swings, headline writers are asking themselves, can bowl out readers now that Imran Khan is definitely more a career politician than a cricketer?
There are some possibilities for the 13th man still hoping for a spot on the team, or on the pages and screens: There is a stern umpire in uniform, who Nawaz Sharif and his supporters will contend, colluded in ball tampering. The match referee in robes was in on the fix too, they will say. But really, the metaphor is an over-reaching jab at a length ball outside the off stump. The writer will certainly be caught behind. There will, of course, be many matches to come. There is the ongoing series with India where the gentleman’s game suffers unduly from the bouncers of diplomatic aggression and even the odd beamer — both teams would do well to remember that’s just not cricket. There is a dangerous Chinaman, but he’s unreliable, many say and could cost too many runs in the long run. Really, though, is this mad dash for a bit of linguistic flair in the slog overs worth it?
The sad truth is that there are no googlies left, no deft flicks that can pun a phrase for a boundary just fine of Fine Leg. The captain is prime minister, the fast-bowler has hung up his spikes. He must now occupy the crease for five years, no mean feat. As a spearhead of the Opposition’s attack, he had many chances to bowl out the incumbent. Now, he must find the crucial balance of all great batsmen, playing with a straight bat when the ball is moving, and be ready to heave one for a six when the team needs it. As for the commentators of politics and society, it’s time to leave the field. Better retired hurt than hit wicket.