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Shapoor Zadran, cult hero

by Jan Mh on March 08, 2015

Shapoor Zadran, cult hero

Shapoor Zadran, cult hero
The sight of long-haired Shapoor Zadran promises to be the one image a fan will remember this World Cup by  

There is no greater liar than the memory of the sports fan. That's why, as has been the case at probably all of the last four World Cups, this one has added healthily to the literary genre of cricket nostalgia. In the realm of nostalgia, facts blur.

Falling within the 28-40-year-old cricket fan demographic as I do, I place more stock than I should in cult heroes of the 1992 World Cup. My mental image - and that apparently shared with literally millions of others - is of offspinning opener Dipak Patel celebrating wickets, and the pinch-hitting Mark Greatbatch cutting a glorious six at Eden Park. In my memory, he gave every single delivery that treatment.


 

Never mind that Patel took only eight wickets in nine games, placing him behind 19 other bowlers (poor, neglected Anderson Cummins…), nor that he didn't always open the bowling. It doesn't matter that Greatbatch's apparently whiplash-inducing 313 runs came at what would now be considered a middling strike rate of 87.92; these men still feel deserving of our adulation.

Part of this can be attributed to youth, of course. My most depressing moment this week came upon the realisation that 1992-issue Mark Greatbatch - who looked like mid-'80s Gene Hackman back then - was during that tournament actually three years younger than I am now myself. There comes a point when sportspeople stop looking like the grizzled father of one of your friends. Greatbatch sat in the sweet spot.

What I'm failing to get to here is that the older you get, the harder it is for cult heroes to really imprint themselves on your imagination. You miss out on some of the magic. Or so I thought until I watched Afghanistan pacemanShapoor Zadran marking out his ludicrous run-up at Manuka Oval last week. This tournament is only two weeks old, but Shapoor is my man and that's not going to change. Chris Gayle made 215 against Zimbabwe, Tim Southee took 7 for 33 to embarrass England, but still I haven't wavered and I won't.

Are there kids out there thinking the same thing about Shapoor? Are grown adults as giddy as me about the sight of him charging in like the love child of Shoaib Akhtar and Brendon Julian? I hope so, but more on him in a minute.

The story of this World Cup so far is the Associate nations. I hope that remains the case, even when we lose our minds during the final series in which only Ireland of the Associates is a serious chance to compete. The momentum