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England snared by man from poverty trap

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    England snared by man from poverty trap

    from The Electronic Telegraph
    Scyld Berry - 29 October 2000

    At dawn yesterday Lahore station was no longer asleep. A few figures lay shrouded upon the platforms,
    but everyone else was on the move as bearers in red tunics looked for luggage to load on their heads,
    and vendors of biscuits, bananas and Urdu newspapers tried to interest passengers on the 6.30
    Shalimar Express to Karachi.

    As light and kitehawks filled the sky, so did the call to the first of Islam's five daily prayers. After the
    call, a tapper clanged each wheel of the Shalimar to make sure it was safe. A diesel throbbed
    somewhere under the immense tin roof. Steam rose, from the first rice of the day being cooked on
    Platform 3.

    But as the sun changed from friend to foe and burnt off the haze, this world of its own was not so
    romantic. There were beggars living in nothing more than rags and hope; and sweepers who, after
    sprinkling water to lay the dust, swept with brushes for all they were worth, which in material terms did
    not seem very much.

    The father of Yousuf Youhana, the Pakistan batsman who held up England in the Karachi one-dayer
    and finished them off on Friday night in Lahore, used to be a sweeper at Lahore station. Youhana has a
    brother who still works there, and he would no doubt have been there too yesterday if he had not
    developed his talent for middle-order batting. Surely no Test cricketer has come from a background so

    Youhana was born and brought up less than half a mile from the station in a house - well, a Westerner
    would never call it a house. When talking at the Gaddafi Stadium, Youhana had referred to the place
    where he had grown up and his brother Irshad now lives at "railway cottages", which suggests petunias,
    doilies on the armchair, and scones for tea. In reality it is more like an out-house, a few bare brick walls
    covered with corrugated iron.

    Yousuf Youhana is a Christian, his name the local equivalent of Joseph John. In an overwhelmingly
    Muslim country the Test side has always been a fair reflection of the demographic balance. Before
    Pakistan was given Test status in 1952 the side included a Parsi, Rusi Dinshaw; in the mid-50s the
    Anglo-Indian Duncan Sharpe, who emigrated to and played for South Australia; two Goanese
    Christians in the 60s, Wallis Mathias and Antao d'Souza; and a Hindu, Anil Dalpat, who kept wicket
    when England toured in 1984.

    The majority of Pakistan's Christians were low-caste Hindus who converted in the 19th century to
    escape their karma. They haven't quite succeeded. Many of the bearers and sweepers at Lahore station
    are Christian, and they are the lucky ones. The unlucky are bonded labourers in the brickworks whose
    chimneys dot the landscape outside Lahore. They are bound upon the wheel of lifelong debt, however
    hard they work.

    Youhana began to play cricket, the only sport which interested him, amid the potholes that pass for a
    road outside his house. "I'm first learning on the road with taped tennis ball," said Yousuf. "On the road
    with my older brother. I have five brothers and one sister including me."

    Thanks to Hajji Bashir ud-Din Chugti he grew to represent Golden Gymkhana, a club where Muslim
    and Christian play side-by-side and represent the harmony of the neighbourhood. "Every day he
    watched me on the road. He gave me kit and everything." Golden Gymkhana is a few hundred yards
    from his old "house", a patch of ground used for kite- flying and football as well as cricket.

    By 1993, while his counterparts in England were driving to their under-19 matches in sponsored cars,
    Youhana had to give up the game like his brother before him. "I stopped cricket for seven months
    because I have a poor family but find no job. No job, no resources, no money, nobody help me. When
    I am in Pakistan team every Father, every priest, want to see me." He smiles gently, ruefully".

    Then he did receive some help, secular help. One Babar Butt fixed him up to play in Yorkshire for
    Bowling Old Lane, and the season went well - in spite of having to do 12-hour shifts in a restaurant on
    Friday nights - but he played the next season for Pudsey, under the late Phil Carrick and alongside
    Matthew Hoggard of the present England party, who remembers calling him "Joe".

    Does he bat like a Christian? He's undoubtedly composed at the crease, wristy yet compact. Early this
    year he hit two hundreds in consecutive Tests in the West Indies, only the second Pakistani after Javed
    Miandad, and he was facing Ambrose and Walsh in the pressure situations of 37 for five and 33 for

    Amid the nocturnal insects of the Lahore one-dayer Youhana never gave England a sniff, playing himself
    in with methodical singles before going down the pitch to Ashley Giles and launching him over extra-
    cover with control and footwork beyond England's scope.

    What we can say is that he makes an unobtrusive sign of the cross whenever he steps over the
    boundary rope to bat; and that while the Muslim players pray together in the dressing room before a
    game, he does so, too, by himself. He also "walked" in Karachi after nicking a catch behind, which is
    not commonplace in this country.

    For the one-day international in Lahore, Youhana could have stayed in the team hotel, of such opulence
    that you can comb your hair in the sparkling chrome of the bidet tap. He preferred to stay at his new
    home in Defence Colony with his wife, and Irshad's seven children, and with his father whom he finally
    persuaded to leave "Railway Cottage" after 40 years. Given where Youhana started from, no one in this
    forthcoming Test series has gone further down the line.

    Great inspiring article!!! We muslims in Pakistan should learn to respect minorities and have-nots and learn that they r human beings.
    Saints are fine for Heaven, but they are hell on earth.


      Did you know that the best young leg spinner in Pakistan is a 19-year-old Hindu by the name of Danish Kaneria?

      He should break into the national side within the next couple of years.


        Mushtaq is past it.
        He disappointed in Australia and the West Indies.
        Danish Kaneria should replace him in the next two tests.