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Pakistan cricket: Shine on, you crazy diamond

The Roar logo The Roar 22-11-2015 Dane Eldridge

Sometimes cricket can be a disappointment, so when it starts acting the miscreant with its five-day borefests and shifting handshake customs, I suggest we all just lie back and think of the charming disorganisation that is Pakistan cricket.

Their chaotic magic brings strength and reassurance and LOLs, all in varying doses, no matter how docile the over rate any dismal cricket may be forcing upon us.

When in full, rudderless and enchanting flight, Pakistan cricket is my favourite type of cricket.

Yep, it’s even better than Australia going the tonk, Aleem Dar’s hair, and lightning bolt ODI shirts from the Benson and Hedges series circa 1991. Pakistan cricket is my cuppa tea, if the cup also contained smelling salts. It has the thrills to pay the bills, and I’m here to pay them tribute.

Pakistan has a chequered history of irresistible entertainment appeal that has thrived from their modus operandi: no matter what you do, always make life difficult for yourself.

This makes for nary a dull moment whenever they’re about, be it on the field or off. When they win World Cups, they do it the hard way. When they lose them, they do it either the easy way or the spectacular way, but always the memorable way. When they produce spells, they gift us Wasim Akram’s at the MCG or Mohammad Yousuf’s 2006.

Pakistan cricket is batting collapses borne or inflicted, the Waqar Younis headband, and the raw, sexual magnetism of Imran Khan. They are paranormal activity, losing the unloseable, winning the unwinnable, and pretty much anything Shahid Afridi has ever done on a field, like bite a ball, pirouette in spikes on a length, or blow your freaking mind.

They always seem weighed down, whether it be match-fixing sagas, forfeiting Tests, or Inzy’s lunchbox. It’s a unique state of rabble with a capriciousness that can catch fire and rip through the best by 200 runs or, alternatively, lose to Kenya by 10 wickets.

As long as you don’t support them, and as long as they don’t save their annual solitary diamond performance for your team, and provided you haven’t taken them in the head-to-head wagering, they are pure sporting theatre for all to enjoy.

To the casual observer, Pakistan cricket has been out of sight and out of mind for a while as they struggle with all manner of issues, like transience, politics and themselves. But after clubbing all-comers in the UAE over the last six years and picking up 50 per cent of road wins in the last two, they have now shot back into the wider conversation as Test cricket’s official second-best side.

But despite the tranquil tutelage of Misbah Ul-Haq, his battery of gritty bats, and the wizardry of the Shane Warne-endorsed Yasir Shah, they still haven’t forgotten where they’ve come from. They’re still doing things… differently.

For example, Shoaib Malik. The veteran made a triumphant return from a five-year Test exile to figure in three matches of the England series. Not a bad achievement, eh? He celebrated by announcing his retirement on Day 3.

And such was his irrepressible excitement about putting the tools down, he made it public before he even told his captain. Peak Pakistan behaviour.

Younus Khan followed suit, busting himself tirelessly to win a recall to the ODI squad. Again, instead of knuckling down to cement his spot after working so hard to win it back, he suited up for the solitary match before hanging up the boots forever. Textbook.

Naturally, this didn’t go down well with Pakistan bosses, and they roundly criticised his unorthodox behaviour before selecting a debutant for the upcoming T20 series who is 39 years of age.

Add a 3-1 ODI series loss to a greenhorn England side, a series including some trademark zany collapses and a trio of certified run-outs in Game 3 that sceptics mused may have been better arranged than a Mozart piano concerto, and it’s beautiful business as usual.

So a big congratulations to the erratic, possibly drunk, but always damn sexy Pakistan. Their newly achieved position near the top of Test cricket is a wonderfully unexpected accomplishment, but not as fabulous as the fact they’ve remained true to themselves throughout.

Keep shining on, you crazy diamond. Because cricket needs you.

While we stress about poor crowds and one-sided results in Test cricket, the scourge of Twenty20 and why we need more Twenty20, slow over rates and who’s the game’s biggest meanie and why it’s Australia, let us give thanks and praise for the raw entertainment factor of Pakistan, and never take them and their mercurial behaviour for granted.

I can’t wait to see them in Australia next, full of promise, before probably losing in a whitewash.

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