Wasim and I – The Two Most Aggressive Cricketers on Earth


Aggressive Wasim Akram

Aggressive Wasim Akram

These are two angry men in the cricket field. First one is the legendary Pakistani cricketer Wasim Akram who ripped through the opposition batting line with his destructive reverse swing bowling attack, displayed unbelievable fielding talents by holding onto spectacular catches and went on to power hitting down the order while batting on his day. (Not to mention that epic 257 test runs not out from 363 balls against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura in 1996.) Wasim was the most aggressive cricketer on the field I have seen in my entire life. Not even Saleem Malik, who was both fortunate and unfortunate enough to be Wasim´s captain during most of his career would be spared of the latter´s verbal assault if the former displayed any poor fielding off the latter´s bowling. The latter would ask something to the effect of “Do you need the ball to be size of a pumpkin for you to catch it?” which was even heard through the on-field microphones. That was Wasim. That was his commitment to the game. Wasim is my favorite cricketer of all-time.

An Angry Nanda Wanninayaka

An Angry Nanda Wanninayaka

The second one, me, nowhere close to Wasim, the legend but, is a hugely brushed-off cricketer in my own small village cricket club. I must probably have been the bowler who took the most number of wickets for my team but was never considered as a bowler because I didn’t bowl fast (enough.) I used my head than the body when bowling and captured an average of 5 wickets in two 10-over per side match an evening. Fast bowlers like my own younger brother Aruna, Samantha, Donald, Sanath were considered as the best bowlers but all of them except Donald conceded a lot of runs as they delivered more no-balls and wides than legitimate balls. My brother was the undisputed “No-ball King” those days. But all these bowlers were good bowlers given the reason that they had to bowl with a tennis ball on an uneven grassy pitch, not even on a mat. But I was sidelined during the inter-club matches as I did not bowl fast (enough.) Taking wickets constantly during practice matches was never considered as a qualification to bowl during inter-club matches. I was a bad fielder at the beginning and dropped many a catch but later improved myself a lot and hardly dropped a catch after I learnt the techniques of holding onto a catch while watching cricket commentaries on TV. When it comes to batting, I was a bad batsman and hardly scored 10+ in an innings. Then again, I learnt batting techniques on TV and then improved myself. Despite the strong protest of my own younger brother, I promoted myself to the prestigious position of the opening batsman and lasted almost all 10 overs while the batsmen from other end collapsed like cards of dominoes. I didn’t go to big hits unless it was very needed towards the latter part of the innings and all I did was trying to last the full quota of 10 overs allocated for a team. All I knew was that the team that batted all 10 overs always won, mainly thanks to no-balls and wides that came as bonuses. This was why I opened batting and went on to bat all 10 overs on more often than not. This doesn’t mean that I occasionally got out for a duck, perhaps on the first ball.

Keeping that all self-promoting nonsense aside, all I wanted to say is that even though I cannot compare myself with my favorite cricketing hero, legendary Wasim Akram, we both were equally aggressive players, if not more, on the field. We both fought till the last ball to win a match, not to save a match.

Now both Wasim and I are retired and I still enjoy him as a commentator, He might not be as lively as Ravi Sastri, as eloquent as Rameez Raja, as crazily fast as Harsha Boghle or as technical as Sunil Gavaskar as in the commentary box, but the soft-spoken Wasim has a great sense of humor and a stylish language in commentating. But all I want to see great Wasim is as a player for the eternity. Such pace, such strength, such talent, such commitment, such perfection, such anger, such aggression, such glamour, you will never see from anyone but Wasim.

Well, last but not least, Wasim Akram’s career was constantly tainted with controversies on and off the field and err … … … so was (and is) mine. 

Wasim Akram Celebrating a Wicket

Wasim Akram Celebrating a Wicket

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram  Celebrating After Taking a Wicket

Wasim Akram Celebrating After Taking a Wicket

Wasim in Action

Wasim in Action

Wasim Akram  Bowling

Wasim Akram Bowling

Wasim Akram  Bowling

Wasim Akram Bowling

Wasim Akram  Bowling

Wasim Akram Bowling

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram Roaring After Taking a Wicket

Wasim Akram Roaring After Taking a Wicket

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram Batting

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram Encouraging Shoaib Akhtar

Wasim Akram Encouraging Shoaib Akhtar

Wasim Akram Celebrating a Wicket

Wasim Akram Celebrating a Wicket

A Resting Wasim Akram

A Resting Wasim Akram

Nanda Wanninayaka Batting

Nanda Wanninayaka Batting

Nanda Wanninayaka Going for a Big Shot

Nanda Wanninayaka Going for a Big Shot

Nanda Wanninayaka Making Field Changes of the Opposition While Batting :-)

Nanda Wanninayaka Making Field Changes of the Opposition While Batting 🙂

Nanda Wanninayaka Hooking

Nanda Wanninayaka Hooking

Nanda Wanninayaka Taking the Guard

Nanda Wanninayaka Taking the Guard

Nanda Wanninayaka Waiting to Hammer a Short Ball

Nanda Wanninayaka Waiting to Hammer a Short Ball

Nanda Wanninayaka Teaching this American Guy Colin Himes to Bat

Nanda Wanninayaka Teaching this American Guy Colin Himes to Bat

Nanda Wanninayaka Cricket (7)

Nanda Wanninayaka Installing the Dismantled Wicket

Nanda Wanninayaka Teaching Miss Bára Molnárová from the Czech Republic to Bowl

Nanda Wanninayaka Teaching Miss Bára Molnárová from the Czech Republic to Bowl

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda-Wanninayaka-Cricket-Coaching-2

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda-Wanninayaka-Cricket-Coaching-3

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda-Wanninayaka-Cricket-Coaching-4

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Nanda-Wanninayaka-Cricket-Coaching-5

Nanda Wanninayaka Coaching the Cricketers in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

 

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Who is Malala?


malala

Despite all the conspiracy theories against her, I am a great admirer of Malala Yousafzai, world’s youngest ever Nobel laureate from one of our neighboring countries, Pakistan. Like most of the other non-Pakistanis, I too heard about her after being shot by the Talibans on October 9, 2012. I followed news casts after that about her deteriorating health and near death experiences. Just like the rest of you, I too was shocked as to how on earth a man can shoot such an innocent and beautiful butterfly like Malala (or any other child for that matter.) I was relieved once I heard the news that she would survive.

Malala Yousafzai lying in hospital bed

Malala Yousafzai in the hospital bed.

Ever since I followed news about her. After her book “I am Malala” was published, I immediately downloaded the audio version of the book and listened to it zillion times. I still do. I also downloaded the e-book version and read that too. As if it was not enough, I also bought the printed book and read that too. Read my blog post about Malala’s autobiography “I am Malala” in here.

I am Malala

I Am Malala book cover

I also recommended the book I am Malala to the university undergraduates who learned English and English literature from me and they enjoyed discussing and reading it a lot. I made it the compulsory book to read and discuss with the English and English literature class I am doing for English teachers and young graduates who learn from me at Horizon Lanka. She is a big inspiration to them as well.

malala

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” ― Malala Yousafzai

Recently, I found a good picture of Malala with her famous slogan “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world” in the background. I set the image as the wallpaper of my laptop. Not only that, I set it as the wallpaper in my mobile phone also. So, the Horizon Lanka students asked who that cute girl was. I said she is Malala. Then my students asked the same question the Taliban terrorist asked Malala seconds before shooting her, “Who is Malala?”

malala-wallpaper

Malala’s picture as my laptop’s wallpaper

malala-wallpaper-phone

Malala’s in my mobile phone’s wallpaper

Then I opened up the Wikipedia page about her and some of the images taken while she was wounded and her speeches, interviews, etc. in YouTube and briefed about her life and the great risks she took in fighting for the right for girls’ education. My students were greatly inspired and wanted to set the same image of Malala I used as my wallpaper in the other 10 PCs at Horizon Lanka too. This is how their PCs look like now. I don’t know when they will replace with someone/something else but definitely not any sooner according to their love towards Malala. Now all the girls here want to be Malalas.

malala-horizonlanka1

Horizon Lanka’s Malalas with Malala’s picture as the wallpaper in their PCs.

Sri Lanka does not have a big issue when it comes to girls’ education. In most of the schools, colleges and universities girls constitute more than the boys even in challenging fields such as technical, engineering, medical, etc. fields. Even Muslim girls here excel in higher education and in professional careers. But we need more Malalas here to promote education among both girls and boys, especially in rural areas where there is less facilities and urge to go for higher education.

malala-horizonlanka7

Horizon Lanka students with Malala’s picture as the wallpaper in their PCs.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban – Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb


I am Malala

I am Malala – Book Cover

I was impatiently waiting for Malala Yousafzai‘s book to come to the market. I saw a copy at a small bookshop in Ja-Ela and had no money to purchase it at that moment. The same day I searched the Internet and I was surprised to see both the PDF version and audio book were available for free download. I think the idea of the publishers is to let as many people as possible to read this valuable masterpiece of a book by a teenage girl who was shot nearly dead by the Taliban and was miraculously saved due to the luck of the world. Her story is worth reading by people in all seven continents alike. The message she gives through the book is so strong.

I have listened to the audio book I am Malala more than 10 times by now. I am listening to it once again these days. It is that interesting. The prologue is read by Malala herself. You might feel that if she continues reading the whole book it would have been better but when you hear voice of the other girl who is hired by the publishing company; Archie Panjabi, you feel that she does justice to the book by rendering a professional service that no one else can. She is so perfect that the smiles, giggles, sorrow, sighs of Malala could be felt when listening to the audio files.

Malala has obviously got the support of the experts to compile the book which is understandable and fair from the readers’ point of view. She outlines how Taliban was created under the guidance of the late President General Zia-ul-Haq to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan by calling it a jihadi war, and how the Taliban was nursed by the ISI (Pakistan’s national intelligent agency) under different governments, and how the Taliban went out of control. It is an interesting to read all these through her book than through a history book as the way she puts it down in the book is extremely exciting and sometimes, hilarious. She has great sense of humor.

The background of the Swat Valley and the Pashtun traditions she brings forth is very detailed and breathtaking. How the valley was decorated with the ancient Buddha statues and snow-covered mountains encourage me to visit Swat myself one day despite the danger of such a risky journey.

Malala lines up even minute things in her life in the book and surprisingly they are interesting enough to the reader. The happy times, the devastating earthquakes, uncontrollable floods, then the Taliban invasion of the beautiful Swat Valley are described in a very emotional language style so much so that you feel like you are living in that setting and all the characters are your known neighbors.

I can understand Malala’s sentiments towards the Taliban as I too come from an area (Mahawilachchiya) that was affected by the civil war of Sri Lanka. My childhood also was full of LTTE Tiger terrorist attacks, bomb sounds, air raids, curfew, etc. but I was not as close as Malala to the war front as our village was just in the border that demarcated the government controlled area and the LTTE influenced area.

Malala’s (and her father’s) campaign for the rights of the girls’ education in Pakistan is unbelievably encouraging. Though they were two unprotected civil figures, Malala and her father happened to voice against a ruthless terrorist outfit that even killed Pakistan’s national leaders, high ranking officers of the armed forces and innocent civilians indiscriminately. The two (Malala and her father) even refused the security the government offered. How much courage a young female teenager should muster for such a challenging campaign? I can’t imagine any other girl displaying such courage. Maybe her namesake, Malala in Afghanistan who died decades ago while encouraging the Afghan soldiers to fight the British army was the only other girl as courageous as young Malala is.

I love and consider Malala as my own daughter. Had I married younger, I would have had a daughter of her age. But I married late at the age of 33 and delayed producing a baby for another 3 years as I did not have an income after leaving the village after marriage. So, my only son is just 7 years. I wish I had a daughter too but it won’t be feasible now.

I listen to at least a few chapters of the audio book “I am Malala” every night through my mobile phone till I fall asleep. I never get bored of her story. And I love the way Archie Panjabi reads the book.

P.S.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of skepticism, especially among the Pakistanis themselves about whole Malala episode. They cite conspiracy theories. Some say that Malala was shot by her own father and they pretended it was done by the Taliban for the family to get a luxurious life in the West. Some suggest that she was not shot at all. Some accuse Malala of being an American stooge and a CIA agent. These are funny accusations. Would a girl of her age take such a big risk that almost lost her life to get cheap publicity? It is true that she became more than a rock star after being shot but it was just sheer coincidence. She never expected it. She was only listening to her heart’s call. Her heart asked her to stand up for girls’ education which was and is a burning need in Pakistan and many parts of the world and she just stood up for that noble cause.

Rehan School, Pakistan


Rehan School

Rehan School

Education is a basic right of all human beings. Rehan Allahwala thinks that everyone in Pakistan has a right to educate themselves and become successful in their chosen fields. But 43% of the population in Pakistan is illiterate.

Rehan thinks that this could be achieved by using simple mobile phones. He believes that inexpensive mobile phones without Internet access can do this revolution.

According to my understanding, Rehan School is a mobile phone based virtual school system that allows anyone who has a mobile phone access the prerecorded video lessons free of charge. With expanding mobile coverage in Pakistan, this will be an exciting way to reach the rural illiterate communities. Since this is a free service, millions of Pakistanis can benefit.

This school is available nationwide in Pakistan in all the DVD and mobile phone shops distributed by the largest content distribution company CD Bank Pakistan.

The price of this content is free, but the mobile shop keeper may charge a small fee of 50 rupees to transfer the content in the required format on the mobile phone’s memory card. Later on, this video content can be given by that phone user to anyone else, using Bluetooth for free.

There are 6 billion mobile devices in the world as per Wikipedia. In Pakistan, there are 112 million mobile phones out of the 180-million population. A brand new video playing mobile phone is available in Pakistan for 1,150 Rupees. So, Rehan School content can reach a wider population. Celebrities in Pakistan have already committed to the project by rendering their services free of charge.

Cheering Visiting Cricket Teams Against Sri Lanka


Sri Lankan supporters supporting the SL team at Gabba, 2010

There are a lot of talks by various concerned people about some of the Sri Lankan Muslims supporting Pakistani cricket team and some of the Sri Lankan Tamils supporting Indian cricket team against the Sri Lankan team when India and Pakistan visit Sri Lanka. Some go to the extent calling the Tamils and Muslims ‘traitors.’ But is there anything more than this behind this phenomenon?

Muslims are more concerned with religion than race or anything else for that matter. So, naturally, they see the Muslims in Pakistani teams as “brothers” than the members of the Sri Lankan team. With the strong beliefs they have towards their religion, this is expected. Besides, only few Muslims have been able to make it to the national team of Sri Lanka. Had that happened, the things would have been different, I guess.

It is the same with India team. Tamils in Sri Lanka have their roots in India and they think they have been discriminated by the Sinhalese and hence their first love with the Indian team. Few Tamils represented the Sri Lanka team but only Muralitharan could make it ‘felt.’ Had there been more Tamils in the Sri Lanka team, the reaction of the Tamils here would have been different. But the selectors cannot name a team to justify racial concerns. They have to adhere with the players’ talents. Non Sinhala players being selected to the team constantly shows that there is no discrimination against them.

In another note, look at the cheering squads in Australia, England or New Zealand that have migrated from Sri Lanka and obtained citizenships in those countries who support Sri Lanka team when they visit those countries?  If we oppose Muslims and Tamils supporting India and Pakistan in Sri Lanka, the British, Australians and New Zealanders should oppose Sri Lankan migrants supporting Sri Lanka in those countries. But they don’t care. Should we take Muslims and Tamils supporting non Sri Lankan teams seriously? It is just a sport. It doesn’t have anything to do with patriotism. The best example is that when the Kandy team plays rugby in Kandy, people from all communities support Kandy forgetting their racial differences as it is ‘their’ team and all communities represent the team.