Sunday, March 05, 2006

Dubbya Tries to Bowl the Doosra

Audio, video, disco!

Bush fire ... enraged Indian cricket fans react to George Bush's intention to play cricket with Pakistani children by burning his effigy on Sunday.

It has all happened as I asked – but all too soon. Fantastic set of pictures in the Sunday Times showing how Dubbya has been converted to my way of thinking. No, before you jump to conclusions, he's not decided to pull out of Iraq. No - he has not proposed a complete rethink on America's energy policy. No - he has not decided to go hunting with Dick Cheney. He has been photographed in Pakistan enjoying some cricket practice with some Pakistani children. He bowls, not the greatest action in the world admittedly, and he bats - without troubling the purists with his range of strokes. But, (and this is the key point) he doesn't look all that completely bemused or confused about what he's doing. Has he been having secret lessons? Is this a scoop? Remember, you heard it here first.

Cricket is adored in Asia. In India, one of Dubbya's stops in this buddy-making exercise, cricket is almost a religion. More to the point, in Pakistan - within whose borders old Who's-a-ma-Binliner may well be hiding – cricket is fantastically popular. So, popular that the former Pakistani cricket captain, Imran Khan, has carved out a semi-successful career as opposition politician, despite the fact that no-one in Pakistan, apparently,agrees with his policies. Not a real problem if you are one of the all-time leading wicket-takers in Pakistani Test history. These pashtoons have a very interesting history at least in oral traditions.

Sir Alexander Brunes in his Travels into Bokhara, which he published in 1835, speaking of the Afghans said: "The Afghans call themselves Bani Israel, or the children of Israel, but consider the term Yahoodi, or Jew, to be one of reproach. They say that Nebuchadnezzar, after the overthrow of Israel, transplanted them into the towns of Ghore near Bamean and that they were called after their Chief Afghana… they say that they lived as Israelites till Khalid summoned them in the first century of the Mohammadans… Having precisely stated the traditions and history of the Afghans I see no good reason for discrediting them… the Afghans look like Jews and the younger brother marries the widow of the elder. The Afghans entertain strong prejudices against the Jewish nation, which would at least show that they have no desire to claim – without just cause – a descent from them. [Sir Alexander Brunes, Travels into Bokhara, Vol. 2:139-141.]

The photo of Dubbya playing cricket accompanies an entertaining article from the Sydney Morning Herald, (Aussies are also cricket-mad) entitled, “Dubya working on his doosra” For you non-cricket playing folk, the doosra is a ball bowled by a right arm orthodox off-spinner that moves the other way – like a leg-break, apparently In Hindi and Urdu, doosra means "second" or "other". Perhaps this is what has enraged the Indian cricket fans. Looking at the photos in the Sunday Times and judging from Dubbya's bowling action, he may be working on his own version of the “other” and more mysterious delivery, perhaps called the “don'tra” - or maybe the “contra”. Both would work for me.

Seriously, as cricket was exported (fairly painlessly) to those parts of the globe that used to be coloured red, i.e. the British Empire, so was the mental attitude and spirit of fair play that has become synonymous with the game. Even if you don't know the game very well, the phrase, “It's just not cricket,” translates easily as “nice people don't do things like that.” We could use a dose of that attitude in Iran and Iraq – that's for sure.

Part of the appeal of the game is it's very “gentleness” for lack of a better word. Cricketers are invariable (at least in public) polite about their opponents and quick to praise the opposition as fellow members of the honourable company of cricketers. This would be useful in the slums of Baghdad. If the British troops down in Basra are not engaging the local kids by giving them bats and balls, I'd be very surprised.

In private, of course, cricketers as professional sportsmen are just as capable of trying a bit of verbal gamesmanship as anyone. Australians are past masters at “sledging” (as this practice is known). Best illustrative example: Zimbabwean batsman and part-time chicken farmer Eddo Brandes was the proposed victim of the wit of Australian bowler, Glenn McGrath, “Hey Eddo, why are you so F*****g Fat?” Eddo Brandes, “Because every time f***your mother, she throws me a biscuit”. Now, that's what I call a come back!

If you must check out this sort of thing – go to but remember some are fairly rude.

Notwithstanding these professionals, the recreational game is usually punctuated by no more than an occasional harsh word – usually directed at your team-mates rather than the opposition. With the neighbours of the Pashtoons (Iraqi and Iranian) engaged in a friendly game of cricket and learning about respect, sportsmanship and turning the other cheek, we might all benefit.

Last word to:

1 week at number 1 - 13 weeks in the charts

I say, I don't like cricket, oh no, I love it.
I don't like cricket, no no, I love it.

p.s. The most amusing part of the Dubbya story is the photos of him playing cricket with some Pakistani kids. The captions are a riot! First photo of four: My fellow Americans, greetings from Pakistan, where I am learning to play this country's unusual version of baseball. Second photo: This is my first attempt at being a bowlsman. And to think that folks say we Texans have a funny way of walking. Photo three: Here I am being the batsman. Unfortunately, I hit it so hard we had to ask NASA for our ball back. Photo four: Out? You cannot be serious! As president of the United States, I totally condemnify the actions of the Evil Empire.

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