Rahul Da Cunha: Khan Imran do it?
This was a playboy party animal, but first to show up on the cricket ground the next morning to practice. Party hard, play hard seemed to be his motto
I nearly failed my ICSE board exams because of Imran Khan. April 1978, the Indian team had gone to Pakistan to a play a test series in the days we still played cricket across the border. How the Board of Cricket Control could've fixed a test series during my boards was unforgivable. I mean, Indo-Pak matches were special in the way that the Ashes are. But, there it was, I was faced with test matches vs tests. We had an old black and white EC TV with an indoor antenna, and one channel.
I really did try and attempt to study for my crucial tenth standard papers, but Imran Khan stood between me and the Tundra Region, me and Trigonometry, me and Tipu Sultan, me and achieving a minimum ten aggregate. (How I made it through that exam, watching the Test match in the day, studying through the night, and still managing a school education, at a time when 54 per cent still got you into college, I'll never know).
But that one month, the charismatic Pathani walking back to his run-up, shining the red ball (black on the telly) on his white flannels, as he came in to bowl to Sunny Gavaskar, that high delivery stride, mesmerised a young me. (I really did want to, in my dreams, open the bowling for India, at a time when Imran, Lillee, Thomson, Holding, Garner, Marshall and Hadlee bowled in tandem. But, hey, Kapil Dev beat me to it).
It pi***d me off that Mr Khan was so good looking, and boy did the ladies love him. Take this conversation, between me and a female friend:
Me: He's such a fine bowler.
Female Friend: (sigh) He's so dishy!
Me: But he's a playboy.
Female Friend: Who cares. He's so dishy.
This was a playboy party animal, but first to show up on the cricket ground the next morning to practice. Party hard, play hard seemed to be his motto. But for me, the killer was the mutual respect that he and Sunny Gavaskar had for each other — legend has it, that he convinced Sunny to delay his retirement, in 1987, just so that they could have one final duel against each other.
And so, 40 years after I scraped though my ICSE, he becomes the Pakistani PM. So, how will Immy Khan do, heading his country? Haven't a clue... but gotta say, watching one of our key leaders hugging another and then winking in Parliament, any day I'll take a politician like him. Someone who's led his country with distinction, taken on authority, run things the way he's wanted to, got his way and still got positive results. He's certainly got my vote.
Don't think he'll be able to resolve Kashmir. But if he can pull off the odd Test match in Karachi against us, that will be fun. And I can watch in peace. No board exams to worry about.
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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