Al man called Pele… and another called Ish

The world of sport has been shaken by an earthquake. Pele is dead. Yes, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, as was his real name, is no more. He was 82 when he passed, having seen the 2022 World Cup end with France pulling off a splendid victory. His beloved Brazil,   with which he had won three World Cups in 1958, 1962 and 1970, was not in evidence.

Pele brought the sort of attention to football that Mohammad Ali brought to boxing, around the same time. The significant thing about Pele is that he shone as an individual in a team sport. The West Indies cricket team of the 1970s and 1980s had some of that charisma, but the individuals fell short. Viv Richards or Mike Holding stand out, but as members of a team.

Even Imran Khan, the iconic cricketer of that era, was part of a team that included at one time or another Abdul Qadir, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Mushtaq Muhammad, and Sarfraz Nawaz, among countless others. If you dare say that Pele or Muhammad Ali were greater sportsmen, you could get bitten by a youthia. Would you need 14 injections after that? Well, that would depend on whether the youthia was rabid or not, wouldn’t it?

Perhaps the greatness of Pele can be measured by the fact that none of his teammates’ names have survived. He was the precursor of Maradona, who was in term the precursor of Messi. But great players as they are, none can ever match Pele.

Much can be said about Pele, but my mind has been fixed on New Zealand’s Ish Sodhi. Not because of his bowling in the First Test, which was good, but failed to get his team a win. I wonder why someone named Inderbir Singh Sodhi should be nicknamed Ish. Four others of Indian origin have played for New Zealand, but they were all from Gujerat, He’s the only one from Punjab, Ludhiana. Its most famous son, Saadat Hassan Manto, (SHM) probably had a greater right to the nickname ‘Ish’’, but no one ever thought of it. Probably the nickname is the result of the sort of wit which resulted in an Aussie remarking a generation ago that New Zealand is inhabited by 32 million sheep, of which a million think they’re people.

Speaking of cricket, this is the first tour since Ramiz Raja was replaced by Najam Sethi as PCB Chairman. Sethi swiftly changed the Chief Selector, appointing Shahid Afridi. His daughter is engaged to Shaheen Shah Afridi. Shahid is almost on the same page, having won a T20 World Cup, so let’s see if he makes his future son-in-law captain, and thus likely to get on the same page.

The man recently on the same page, Imran Khan, was too busy orchestrating his MNAs’ resignation appearance before the Speaker. Instead of all the MNAs, only a delegation went. Speaker Pervez Ashraf refused to accept the resignations, saying he wanted individual personal appearances, and individual letters.

The PTI, mindful that not all members wanted to resign (presumably especially the ones who had not given up their official accommodation in Parliament Lodges or the Ministers’ Enclave), declined. Knowing the PTI, the only way they would allow individual personal appearances would be if party workers were allowed to wait outside. Those workers, all overweight and poured somehow into suits, and carrying baseball bats, useful for breaking the knees of any traitor who tried to return to the Assembly.

We should never be happy at anyone’s misfortunes, so perhaps we should be duly sympathetic with Narendra Modi, whose mother Heerabhen, passed away. She was 99. Well, no wonder, because Modi himself is 72. Mian Nawaz Sharif sent her some shawls a few years back, but they couldn’t save her.



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