Now that I (Martin) have turned fifty, my doctor has advised me to get a colonoscopy, and dutifully I have scheduled one for later in August. At a pre-operation, getting-to-know-you meeting, my surgeon, a dapper gentleman by the name of Dr. Muslim, only had to hear me open my mouth to wish him a very English “Good Morning!” before replying: “You got crushed the other day!” I, being like the good doctor a passionate follower of the global game of cricket, knew exactly what he was talking about: England’s thrashing at the hands of Australia in the second Test match at Lord’s. Thus it goes within the international cabal of cricket fanatics: an immediate rapport and run down of vital statistics before we’d even run down my own.
It should be added that Dr. Muslim grew up in Lahore, and has—like many followers of the Pakistan team—an air of wounded bafflement as to why a side that has produced so many talented and exciting cricketers over the years has failed regularly to meet its potential. As Dr. Muslim ruefully acknowledged, the same might be said about the state, and we agreed (after Dr. Muslim had given me the inside scoop, as it were, on the procedure I would shortly undergo) that Pakistan’s cricket team performed remarkably well given the turmoil in the country. Dr. Muslim was trenchantly medical about what he called the “cancer” of Shahid Afridi‘s presence in the team (he agreed that Afridi was to Pakistan what Kevin Pietersen was to England). He anatomized that South Africa’s failure to achieve total dominance was due to a lack of “balls” (he didn’t mean the ones you throw). And he held little hope for England in the Ashes, although the fact that he’d acquired tickets for two days at the Oval in London (the site of the final game in the series) suggested to me that he at least believed in the statistical possibility that the series would still be competitive.
As a patient cricket fan and a cricket patient, I welcome Dr. Muslim’s probing analysis of my team and my body. I take it as a good omen that in an office off Union Square in Manhattan, an entirely unexpected examination of the state of world cricket could occur at the same time as the examination of my own state. One can only hope that my colon will prove more robust than England’s batting line up, and Dr. Muslim will be able to pronounce me Afridi free.