18 September 2008
Very rarely do you come across people that you instantly take a liking to, but yesterday it happened to me. The person I met was the highly promising Pakistani cricketer Yasir Arafat who is currently playing for Kent. I’d spoken to Yasir a few days ago with a view to us meeting up when he played against Lancashire. He said that he would sort out a ticket for me and true to his word he rang me up on the morning of the match and said that he had sorted the ticket.
He greeted me with a healthy salam, a hug and a big smile. He looked slimmer in real life than on the pictures I have seen of him and when I’ve seen him on tv. However he looked toned, lean and extremely athletic.
We sat and chatted at the ground as the umpires inspected the wet outfield and announced a delayed start. I love chatting cricket as you all know, but its something special when you are talking to such a guy who is so passionate about the game and keen on improving his game and performances and wanted to know all about what the PakPassion members think of him and his performances. We sat and chatted for about an hour with the topics ranging from the prospects of the Lancashire match, the English weather, his trip to Kenya last year, IPL, club cricket he had played in the UK over the years, tours he has been on, other Pakistani players I had met, players we had interviewed on PakPassion etc etc.
With the announcement that play was due to start at lunch, I left the ground and stated to Yasir that I would meet up with him later.
At the close of play Yasir and I met up and he travelled with me to my house. We sat and chatted further as we reached home and then enjoyed a meal prepared by my wife. After the meal, Yasir prayed Namaz and then we watched Manchester United versus Villareal with Yasir supporting the Spanish team after he confessed that he is a Chelsea fan. Following the football, we watched the last few scenes of the Da Vinci Code after we had talked about the film earlier in the evening and we wanted to clarify a couple of points raised in the film.
After the Da Vinci Code finished Yasir was on my laptop looking at the various cricket sites including the PCA rankings site. I must admit he’s really into checking up on the stats and all the averages and rankings in County cricket. He looked at some of the cricket pictures I had saved on my laptop. He also wanted to log onto PakPassion, but sadly the site was down at that time. He’s fully aware of the site and has promised me further interviews in the future.
More really interesting chat with Yasir continued including the Pakistan T20 competition, the T20 World Cup and that shot played by Misbah ul Haq, his family, etc etc etc and later on that night I dropped him back at the team hotel.
A charming, confident, humble, intelligent and likeable guy who I sincerely hope is given a decent run by the selectors. He’s worked hard to achieve his goals and has worked his way up the ranks with performances at all junior levels.