Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Sadly, it appears that the Pakistan Cricket Board are set on dispensing with the certificate-lacking coaching and man-managerial talents of dear, avuncular Mohsin Khan, a man who, with the phlegmatic support of Misbah-ul-Haq, has restored a sheen of sanity, order and hope to one of the game’s great cricketing cultures as it emerged from perhaps its darkest hour. Given that success, the only sensible thing to do was bring in Dav Whatmore tout de suiteIt is therefore a fitting moment to select an All-Time XI of Khans (to play an imaginary game against The Smiths, maybe...no, not that Smiths) to celebrate Mohsin’s all-too-brief tenure. 

Unfortunately, a few of the more obvious names failed to make the cut. Firstly, Imran Khan, widely regarded as the greatest Pakistani cricketer of them all and certainly its leader nonpareil, fails to get in. Ask Ijaz Butt, our Chairman of Selectors, why that might be. 

Zaheer Khan also doesn’t make it. As gladdened as the heart is that the religious homogeneity of the sport’s team of a pious nation is rendered impure (as indeed was Pakistan’s, with the pre-conversion Christian, Yousuf Yohanna, and the Hindu, Danish Kaneria, who possibly venerated the goddess Vishnu, judging by the number of pies in which he had fingers), there is no place for Zed.

Talking of Danish, Jutland’s second greatest seamer (after the mighty ‘Blood-Axe’, Ole Mortensen), sometime England new-ball sprayer Amjad, also fails to make the grade. As do Moin, Younus, Majid and Bazid, Junaid, Sohail, and the quickly discarded, now forgotten Zakir, Arshad, Kabir, Azam, Rashid, Azhar, and Anwar. And there’s no place either for Imraan Khan, from the country of the aardvark and aardwolf. None of these Khans make it.

In the end, we went for an eclectic mix of talents. You be the judge.   

(1) Jahangir Khan
When it comes to Pakistan and rackets, it’s often forgotten that the country has a strong tradition in both badminton and squash. Jahangir, whose name derives from the Persian for ‘Conqueror of the World (with Backhand)’, was unbeaten for five years, a streak of dominance not seen before or since. Such endurance and focus are perfect attributes for an opener.  

(2) Amir Khan
Cousin of the wild and whippy Fabio Coentrão lookalike, Saj Mahmood, the pugnacious Amir’s speed on his feet and ability to duck and dive make him the ideal opening partner for JK.

(3) Simon Khan
I was once told that cricketers should never play golf on account of the different swings of the tool (pipe down, Carry On fans) sending confusing messages to the hands. Alas, I turned out a mediocre batsman. If my pitch ’n’ put is any indication, I could have been a genius golfer. Life’s Garden of Forking Paths: decisions made, futures never lived…

(4) Shere Khan
When Imran Khan gave his famous, nation-inspiring “fight like cornered tigers” speech midway through the 1992 World Cup, prompting a streak of victories that took them from the brink of ignominious exit to an evisceration of a decent England side in the final at the MCG, he probably had this deviously villainous big cat in mind. Anyway, since Kipling’s creatures can obviously meet the twin imposters, Triumph and Disaster, just the same, he’s ideal to bat at four, just as well equipped to deal with 2 for 2 as 200 for 2

(5) Chaka Khan
When Chaka Khan burst into the national conscious – sorry, let me re-phrase that (I’ve just been trying to pitch ghastly, insincere, and largely pointless cultural zeitgeist pieces and have thus been writing overblown sentences about fluff for buzzvibezzz magazine): When Chaka Khan (…Let me rock ya / Let me rock ya, Chaka Khan / Let me rock ya / that’s all I wanna do) had a couple of pop-hits on that radio in the 1980s, tunes that would have drilled their way into the cranial lobes of anyone sat in a van or a factory aurally forcefed the depressing soundtrack of Radio 1, she sounded to my imagination like an elfin, svelte goddess. Not so. Despite, ahem, large lungs lending the stock quality of the stock bowler, she’s probably more suited to giving it some Humpty in the middle order – although she’s also pretty adaptable, too [make up gag based on ‘I’m Every Woman’], just in case Shere Khan nicks off and the ship needs steadying.

(6) Genghis Khan [c]
Despite the regal bearing and unifying charisma of Imran Khan, the obvious choice for captain is Temujin, aka Genghis Khan, himself unifier of the Mongol tribes, pre-requisite of his imperial drive. Gengho is chosen not only for the outstanding ability to array elements in an open space (the very touchstone of cricket tactics, of course, and a trait common to all nomads of the steppe), but also his pitiless stance on indiscipline. Since the speed and range he showed in conquest lend themselves to bowling and middle-order hitting respectively, he is clearly an all-rounder of rare gifts, so slots in at six. Or wherever the fuck he fancies, to be honest.

(7) Oliver Kahn [wk]
With his Planet of the Apes chic, and displaying all the restraint under pressure and humility that one expects from German goalkeepers (cf. Lehmann, Jens), Kahn is a natural ‘keeper, an ideal gloveman. Could probably jibber-jabber and schieß-sprache at the batsman all day, too.

(8) Kublai Khan
Gets in on account of (a) funding the ground and pavilion out in Xanadu, and (b) being the grandson of the captain. Bowls decent leggies, too – albeit perhaps not as good as ol’ Gengho reckons.

(9) Shahrukh Khan
Bollywood actor. Owner of Kolkata Knight Riders. From what I can glean, is very, very good at having his picture taken and waving at the camera. Just about manages to suppress the ‘I cannot believe my fucking luck’ smile from his visage, too, so gets in as master of spin: off breaks, to be precise.  

(10) Khan Noonien Singh
Genetically engineered superhuman tyrant familiar to Trekkies the world over. The Christian symbolism of Star Trek is well known (Captain Kirk), so that would make Khan a devil figure, cast out and seeking vengeance – essentially the mentality one is after in a new ball bowler.

(11) James Caan [vc]
Not the supremely capable of plastering a charming smile on his face to hide his moneylust entrepreneur from Dragon’s Den who helps the country of his birth (where he was given a name, Nazim Khan, that he felt was perhaps just a bit too Urdu for business) by offering to buy babies from folk stricken by the floods, but the star of Stephen King adaptation Misery, Rollerball, and The Godfather, where he memorably portrayed the volatile and violent Sonny Corleone. This hot-headedness and familiarity with the psychology of highly dangerous hard-ball games make him primo new conker material. 

And there you have it. Thoughts, etc?


Jon said...

Mick Karn: late of Japan, and sadly (and recently) late of this mortal coil (the state of being, not the group). Player of warpy fretless bass behind David Sylvian's underblown vocals. Such bass playing is one of many phenomena that appeared beautiful and revolutionary in the early 1980s, but by the end of the decade became repetitive and tedious, eventually becoming "iconic" of the era - to the extent that to dislike the phenomenon is now such a cliche that it is almost as annoying as the phenomenon was in the first place. Much like David Gower's wafts outside the off stump.

Scott Oliver said...

Thanks, Jon. Was at Trent Bridge today in the library and the Notts historian, Peter Wynne-Thomas, told me about a gentleman of the 20s and 30s who, as was common in the era, raised mercenary teams of internationals to play county sides in bona fide first-class fixtures. He had a ground on Loughbrough Rd, West Bridgford (still there, PWT recently lobbied for pavilion to be restored not razed). Name? Sir Julian Khan, recently described in some book or other as "the worst ever first-class cricketer".

Tantic club said...
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Tantic club said...
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