Oborne's "Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket In Pakistan"

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Boycs
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Oborne's "Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket In Pakistan"

Postby Boycs » Thu Dec 24, 2015 1:31 pm

Picked this up some time ago, still reading through it but nearly there now. It's been a long read by comparison to my normal standards, partially due to real life business, and partly due to having several other books on the go at the same time.

Has anyone else read it?

I'll happily admit that, other than Bangladesh, Pakistan is the Test team the history of which I know the least about. The history of the entire nation I was reasonably ignorant of apart from the obvious basics. In terms of a knowledge of Test cricket histories, I know England, Australia and the West Indies the best, then South Africa, India and New Zealand, then Pakistan and Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. That was until reading this book, that is.

Initially I was a little sceptical: Peter Oborne did not strike me as a Pakistani. Why does a historian of Pakistani cricket have to be from that country, you ask? Fair point. But in return: what does a political pundit and biographer of Alistair Campbell and writer for the Daily Telegraph know about Pakistani cricket?

There's a lot of romance in the early beginnings. Oborne paints a portrait of cricket rising in pre- and post-independence Pakistan as a fluttering, fledgling chicklet cracking out of an eggshell in the firelight under a full moon on a lonely night-time mountainside. Then that same chicklet takes its first wavering steps between violent clashes and a succession of slightly dodgy military governments and Pakistan Cricket Board chiefs who are all called "General" this or "General" that, ducks under a few swinging blades of match fixing and personal gluttony on the part of some scheming government officials, and now is sustained not by polished, multi-million pound cricket academies, but by kids playing in the dusty streets with tennis balls wrapped in tape or deflated footballs and a tree for a stump.

Maybe that's how it was. Maybe not. Maybe that's a white European's take on how cricket evolved in Pakistan. I'm often weary of stories like that, because that kind of thing is what Oborne wanted to talk about. Maybe that's what he sees when he thinks of Pakistan. Or, maybe, that's actually what is there. Sometimes you sense him itching to use the word "tribal". The front cover is a dusty cricket game being played with a piece of board being held up by stones serving as the wicket. Is that what happened? Or is that just what the English imagine happened in their "backwards little colony" and so it made it on the front cover. I don't know, maybe I'm being too suspicions of Oborne.

He's certainly very pro-Pakistan. He calls the match fixing scandals "too heartbreaking for words" - hang on, isn't this support to be a history book? I think at times he overdoes it with the portraits of jingoistic, nearly racist or judgemental English touring teams. He slanders a team who dunked water over a Pakistani umpire in the 50s or 60s (I forget now) as pretty-much morally sinful, which is a bit excessive. And he lands squarely on the side of the umpire on the Gatting incident and almost portrays Gatting as a pontificating buffoon which I found particularly questionable.

But it's a thoroughly researched and well referenced book, even if constantly dropping down from the text to read the footnotes every few pages can interrupt the flow a little bit. And it's told me a lot about a cricketing nation that I didn't know. Greatly enjoyed discovering new names and pausing in my reading to look up their records. I enjoyed reading how Mushi learnt his game bowling at trees with deflated footballs, and Shoaib ran from 0300-0530 every morning belligerently knocking down cricket club doors until someone discovered him.

Approaching the last 50 pages now, we've just gone through the 1999 World Cup.

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Re: Oborne's "Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket In Pakistan"

Postby Boycs » Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:51 pm

And today in the news:

Pakistan's ODI captain Azhar Ali and veteran allrounder Mohammad Hafeez have chosen to stay away from the ongoing conditioning camp in Lahore, apparently due to Mohammad Amir's inclusion


http://www.espncricinfo.com/pakistan/content/story/954865.html

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Re: Oborne's "Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket In Pakistan"

Postby kippax » Fri Dec 25, 2015 6:02 am

Not a good Attitude by senior player, youngster doing great in domestic cricket.