I received an email message this morning from Baba. I’m damned if I know why? He must have taken a shine to me during Misbah’s drinks before we left Abu Dhabi On Tuesday.
The note relayed the awards ceremony at the Pakistan series victory dinner somewhere high up in Abu Dhabi.
he Pakistani’s began their evening with the suspension of the betting rules for one hour to allow players to bet on game 2 of the Australian – South African T20 series at the MCG. South Africa was immediately heavily backed as the odds on favourite. When the value traders realised Australia had eased out to 50/1, money stampeded to back Australia into a more respectable 15/2.
Baba observed that some players were more at ease betting on dropped catches and wides. He couldn’t understand how a bet like this made sense unless you were playing the game yourself. All that stuff though was in the past. When the betting window closed, Hollywood and Maxi were the clear front-runners for 50+ followed by the Finch Hitter. They didn’t really know the others.
The place settled down when Misbah was introduced. He spoke slowly and used his favourite word “really” more often than usual. He loves the way his team won, and the young players cleaned up the Australian batsmen. He loved it. If propriety allowed, he would have kissed them all. But he restrained himself. The merest tear flowed from the corners of his dreamy eyes as he read out the credits of the next speaker, Mushtaq Mohammed.
Mushy is pretty old. Hell, he might even be dead. But any old player would wake up for this celebration. And they did. They were all there. The bleached skeletons of the long departed and the newly interred filled the back tables.
Someone then held up a hand for quiet as Mushy read out the team awards.
The Perpetual Vinyl Record Award: Old Misbah-ul-Haq, for the equal fastest Test Century (56 balls) ever and the fastest Test Century by a batsman over 40.
The Greek Plate Breakers Award: Younis, for breaking more records than a Greek wedding. He spent more time on the field than any other player, by a mile.
The Oilmen of America Black Sands Award: Mohammad Hafeez, the only top order bat not to strike century oil.
The Daily Crescent Shadow Award: Azhar Ali, for scoring a couple of tons in the shadow of Pakistan’s two eldest sons.
The Emirates Hometown UAE Award: Asad Shafiq, for being the best no.6 cricket batsman in the UAE in October 2014.
The Sheik Zayed New Ball Scrubbing Award: Ahmed Shehzad, for sucking the speed out of Johnson, Siddle and Starc in their opening first day spells far too easily.
The Bowlers Batsman Award: Withheld. “The batsmen did their job for once” (Imran Khan)
Fielding Awards: Withheld pending investigation of dropped catches by Australian fielders. At the last minute two fielding awards were added by unnamed sponsors
The Dubai Dhow Sailmakers Award: Peter Siddle, for dropping Misbah before he got going on his famous 56 ball century.
The Match Fixers Award: Withheld. Pakistan winning due to superior play was never in doubt.
The Mushtaq Saqlain Spinners Award: Zulfiqar Baba, for taking 14 Australian wickets (11 top order batsmen) bowling arm balls on flat roads that gave up 9 Pakistani centuries in two tests.
The Gulf Fly Fisherman’s Tuna Award: Rahat Ali, for cleaning up inning’s tails.
The Imran Khan Award: Imran Khan, for being Imran Khan.
Everyone who could bowl took a wicket. It was a target rich environment.
Mushtaq paused to take a drink. He was tired, and emotional. Defeating Australia was Pakistan’s greatest ever series victory. He announced two final awards.
The Mossad Best Foreign Film Award: Torture in the UAE featuring the Pakistani 4 (Younis, Misbah, Baba and Imran) for terrorising Australian bowlers and batsmen, something The Islamic State has not been able to achieve.
The Lawrence of Arabia Silent Crowd Award: to the camel watchers lined up in the car park, for whom a road is just another place to piss.
Misbah closed with a quote that summed up his long career: “It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.”
Baba added a ps. “I found out later that the venue had been double booked. We had crashed the Air Cargo Industry Award Dinner. This explains all the cheering and heckling from the cargo skeletons in the back rows. Best team celebration I’ve been invited to attend.”
This work of fiction © Dave Cornford & Jeremy Pooley