A few days back in the WTC final when you ran riot against the Kiwis in the first innings, I wanted to write an open letter to you. Sadly, I couldn’t because of certain obligations. However, today, I am penning this to tell you how important you are to India.
Yesterday, it was not your day and we have seen how the best has also been hammered on an off-day. Imagine, the horror on Zaheer Khan’s face when he started the 2003 World Cup final with a wide that was a mile outside the leg-stump and since then Australia went on a rampage.
But fast forward it by eight years, Zaheer led the charge against Sri Lanka in the all-important finale. Shami, the greatness that you have achieved over the years, all those who have booed you last night, believe me, they do not know what the pedestal looks like.
I am not going to talk about numbers today. I am going to talk about a very special moment that would stay etched in my memories forever.
This memory however, doesn’t involve you. It is about Irfan Pathan who managed to dismiss Gilchrist in his very second Test match with probably what is known as the perfect ball for seamers. The ball had an insane amount of reverse swing that would go on to kiss the timbre of Adam Gilchrist.
Ever since Irfan was gone, India didn’t really produce a quality reverse swinger of the ball. Praveen came in but he was more about variations, line and length. In you, India finally found what they were looking for. A quality reverse swinger, bowling regularly at 140 plus clicks started spearheading the Indian attacks and Australia took notice.
Those menacing deliveries with a whiplash release and a theatrical death wobble, barreling through the defences of the batters to kiss the timbre were treats for the eyes of the cricket lovers.
You know Shami, there was a story about you that I read and it said that you would pick fifers for just a plate of biryani in return when you were young.
In the middle, the chaos that you went through was excruciating to say the least and yet you managed to come out in flying colours. This is why Shami, you are so special to me.
You are a warrior who never knows the meaning of the word “give-up”. You are a relentless hunter of brilliance and with every passing day, you age like fine wine.
More importantly, you are a big match player who delivers more under the cosh. These people who made it a point to slam you over your last night’s showdown, believe me, they do not know cricket, rather they cannot know cricket.
They say cricket is a gentleman’s game and yet the hooligans are trying to tell you what you are instead of what you always will be.
One bad day in office doesn’t mean that you are a fiasco. It is just that the situations weren’t perfectly suitable and maybe you slipped up. We are humans after all and we all slip up. There is nothing abnormal about it.
The ones who demotivate you for the same, they aren’t human at all, they cannot be. Cricket is your religion and so is ours. You are one of the Gods that we deify now and you will always be. Not everyone needs to be Pidge or Zak to earn worship. Some remains the silent warrior like Mohammed Shami.
A crazy cricket fan.