Mayhem among the microbes

There was the fascination of a good horror story in following the Afghanistan versus Ireland Test. These are the two newest admissions to Test status, and though their role should be to provide other teams the opportunity for setting records, they can play between themselves. And that they did, in what can only be called the ‘Clash of the Microbes’. Ireland won, thereby proving that they are not the lowest of the low: the Afghans are.

It was not a match without some dramatic moments. Like when the Irish nighwatchman was out on the first day, to leave Ireland 94-4, which was still short of Afghanistan’s 155, which proved abysmal. Interestingly, that nightwatchman, Van Woerkom, showed the international nature of the Ireland team. He was born in New Zealand, and played firstclass cricket there. But it seems he had no hope of making the New Zealand team, so he got an Irish passport because his maternal grandmother was Irish, and got into the Ireland team.

He’s not an exception. The opener, Moor, was not just born in Zimbabwe, but actually played Test cricket for it. Indeed, his last Test for Zimbabwe was against Bangladesh, and his first for Ireland was against Bangladesh too.

Campher was born in Johannesburg, and even played for the South African Under-19s,  before moving to Ireland. There’s a previous South Africa-UK-dual nationality connection, for Sir T.C. O’Brien captained England in a Test against South Africa in February 1896, and then captained Ireland in its inaugural first-class match in 1902. More recently, Eoin Morgan first played for Ireland, and then went over to England. He went on to captain its ODI side to its only World Cup victory.

I don’t know if the current Irish team drinks hard, but they should, if only to maintain the national reputation. But Ireland is like the West Indies, an international team. Ireland is divided into the Republic and Northern Ireland, which is still part of the UK. We thought we had it bad with communalism, with the separation from India solving the Hindu-Muslim problem.

Well, actually, partition had been tried before by the British on Ireland, with the Catholic South being given independence in 1921, but the Protestant North remaining in the UK.

But there’s one Irish cricket team. Of the eight players born in Ireland to play against Afghanistan, four were born in Dublin, which is the South, but none from any of the rural areas. Four were born in Northern Ireland, including two in its capital, Belfast, which was the scene of some particularly vicious Catholic-Protestant rioting half a century ago. Cricket  was only played by Protestants. It’s a little as if during the lead-up to Independence, Muslims adopted cricket and Hindus football.

Well, Ireland have got their first Test victory. Pakistan’s first came against India, it might be remembered. That was the time Pakistan didn’t have that much of a problem raising a team. And that was the era when Pakistan had some players who had already played for India, like skipper A.H. Kardar and the opening paced Muhammad Nisar. We weren’t like Ireland, grabbing players from other countries. Indeed, Gul Mahomed, the dashing left-hander, played against Pakistan in the 19652-3 series, and then migrated to Pakistan. He was picked for the Test side in 1956, in the only Test against Australia. The match is best remembered for Fazal Mehmood’s 6-34 and 7-80,, but Gul Muhammad scored the winning runs as Pakistan won by 9 wickets.

Of course, the strangest case has got to be that of Sammy Guillen, who kept wickets for West Indies in the early 1950s. His last Test for the West Indies was against New Zealand in December 1951 while touring there. Next, he played for New Zealand against the West Indies, when they next toured, in March 1956. Strangest? Most brazen? I personally put it down to the influence of his wife, who was a New Zealander.

An USAF non-comm, Senior Airman Aaron Bushnell, set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy to protest its bombing of the Gaza Strip. Committing suicide, whatever the cause, is forbidden, and burning oneself is particularly frowned upon. That said, it was the first sign of military honour, and shown by a member of an allied force. Throughout this conflict, I’ve been a little surprised at the calm indifference of the Israeli Defence Force members who do not seem sickened at their slaughter of defenceless people.

Of course, it would suit the PTI more if someone burnt himself here, the way two jialas did after Bhutto was hanged. Instead, the PTI installed Ali Amin Gandapur as KP CM, while Imran still languishes in jail. He has become CM while on bail, which can’t be good.

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