The North West Frontier province of Pakistan is somewhere I’ve never been.
It’s not in any tourist brochure I’ve read. It doesn’t fill the stories of world travellers I know.
Somewhere along the line, it changed it’s name to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in an attempt to sex it up a little. Maybe that wasn’t the reason, but people like me will never know. It’s not an area of the globe we will ever research or know much about.
As far as I’m concerned, it may as well be known as Narnia.
A magical kingdom full of dexterous wristy batsman and leg spinners who bowl with the unfair advantage of being able to cast spells of drift, bounce and turn.
It’s where Yasir Shah was born.
He’s the chief wizard of Narnia.
Leg spinners are like Brigitte Bardot. No matter how hard you try, one glance at their seductive gait and infatuation sets in.
Not necessarily a lust. But definitely a crush.
Being only human, I suffered from this phenomena when my eyes first saw Yasir bowl.
That little skip midway through his delivery stride may as well be a flirtatious black and white wink from Brigitte through the television set.
That crush started when Yasir had his Test debut in Dubai. It ended a mere 13 months later in Sharjah.
Yasir had broken my heart.
Not a little break. More an animalistic tear of flesh. The job was done properly.
Because Yasir cheated. He took drugs and got caught.
Now I know all humans are fallible.
We are imperfect creatures whose mistakes play out in front of camera phones and on Facebook and via internet memes.
But in my world, a false morality exists.
One where my sporting heros are not fallible. One where they don’t get caught taking drugs or gambling or fixing matches or caught with whores nor have conflicts of interest.
In my world of false morality, cricket players must wear white to the wedding.
Virginal. Uncompromised. Angelic.
Because cricketers don’t make moral mistakes in my universe. Leave the erring to me.
Yasir wasn’t meant to stuff up like that. But he did.
How could I continue to tout his wares once the label of drug cheat donned his crown?
I couldn’t. It was over between us.
But he wasn’t the first Pakistani to ruin my own personal Disneyland.
That title goes to Wasim Akram.
A more skilful fast bowler this planet has not seen.
That 10 step run up. Those ridiculously strong shoulders pelting the ball down full and swinging. Those LBW shouts.
He only needed one name. He’s just like Jesus in that regard.
If challenged, I’m sure he could turn water into wine or whatever it was that Jesus did.
Both were the David Copperfields of their time.
Wasim was there as I was riding through adolescence.
I knew nothing of Justice Quyyam back then. I know of Justice Quyyam now.
Or as I like to call him, the slightly flawed truth bomb.
It was Justice Quyyam who investigated match fixing in the Pakistani team. It was Justice Quyyam who said that Wasim was not above suspicion and that Wasim was “not above board.”
But that slightly flawed truth bomb didn’t punish Wasim.
Therefore, the man with the most perfect bowling action went on to captain his country, forge a career as a commentator and own the respect of his peers. And me.
Then last year, the slightly flawed truth bomb opened his creaky fuselage and let rip.
“I had a soft spot for him….I didn’t want that cricket should be deprived of his participation”.
The now President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan had just reminded me that Wasim was not Bambi.
Wasim was Bad Santa. He was the Joker. He was Gargamel.
He stole candy from kids. While smiling. During Eid.
Another crush destroyed.
And given that my false moralistic world is unequivocal in its judgement of others, many other favourites have been struck off the list over the journey.
Mark Waugh looked beautiful, but he played with bookies.
Shane Warne did the same, and doubled down by consuming the wrong drugs.
Sachin lied to a Supreme Court judge to protect a team mate rather than the truth.
Graeme Smith effectively broke up with his wife via a text message. Men don’t end relationships this way in my false moralistic world.
MS Dhoni didn’t have the courage to speak out against the corrupt and conflicted golden goose.
I don’t care if these guys are now commentating on TV, captaining India, selecting Australian sides or take retirees to the USA for T20 matches in baseball stadiums.
They have betrayed my trust.
They have brought shame onto the most noblest of sports.
Some of my favourites have yet to screw up, but I’m sure it’s coming.
Funky Miller, Greg Matthews, Michael Bevan, Fanie, Sangakkara, Viv.
Can you guys please continue to be perfect humans, because your colleagues couldn’t and that makes me sad.
I still have my favourites. But break my false moral code and I feel justified not being your fanboy anymore.
It’s not fair. This is know.
I’m told people deserve second chances.
My favourite cricketers? In my false moralistic world? No
I am far from perfect. My real world friends are far from perfect.
My family functions worse than a 3rd world oil rich African state.
Whatever you do, don’t read my tweets, digest my articles or listen to my podcasts.
I don’t need you to judge me.
Just because you still cheer for these guys, doesn’t mean I will lower my standards in some frenzied group-think of adulation.
For these are my cheers and I will distribute them as I see fit.
My cheer quiver never had one aimed at Botham, Cronje, Samuels or Amir. Just as well.
Unfortunately, there are also none left for Yasir and co either.
They have all let me down.