We need more Tahirs around

Everyone has an Imran Tahir moment. That moment when you felt chuffed that he’d made a home in South Africa, and also happened to be very handy with a piece of leather in his hands.

Mine happened not too long ago, in the President’s Suite at Kingsmead. Occasionally they let under-dressed scribes sneak up for a glass of shandy.

Tahir hadn’t played that game, as has often been the case in recent times. He takes his role as a mentor very seriously, and sees sense in allowing his heir to get comfortable under his watch.

It’s a bigger picture outlook which is not that common as players reach the end of the road.

Anyway, back to the expensive seats in Durban.

There Tahir was, in full kit, trying to sneak back to the change-room without attention.

Fat chance.

Graeme Smith was in attendance with several other commentators, and he was regaling those at the bar with a tale of Tahir’s early days.

There is a birthday song that has lyrics which include ‘smash it in your face’, which the Proteas wheel out from time to time.

As it was Tahir’s first birthday in the team, and he was new to the culture, he took that particular line  sung with extra gusto  as an instruction, rather than just a song.

So, he proceeded to smash his immaculately created birthday cake in his face, to shock and guffaws from the rest.

All in, Tahir was. Unapologetically so.

He chuckled again when Smith retold his whoopsy, but he had neglected to spot the growing queue behind him.

Autograph and picture hunters, young and well-heeled. Tahir has always found it impossible to say no, so he obliged every last one, shaking each by hand.

It’s always been his way, and fans around the world regularly tell of the Tahir touch.

On the field, of course, he reinvented an almost non-existent wheel. He made South African cricket look at wrist-spin in a whole new light.

It wasn’t easy at the start, because South African spinners are taught to be quiet and reserved from the minute they turn one.

Not Tahir.

Highlights in the hair, airplane celebrations as if he was Allan Donald – the man has been a delightful assault of the notoriously conservative South African senses.

And he is a vividly proud South African, too.

You only need to see him tug at the badge leaving a victory song to know what it means to him.

We need more Tahirs in the world. Now, more than ever.

Everyone is Bhai to Tahir. Everyone. Bhai is brother, of course, and it is a small mark of respect and equality. Everyone is a Bhai.

This week, we were reminded that this world still had too many people who would prefer us to be divided, rather than be blissfully Bhai.

This week, we were viciously reminded how sick and twisted this world we live in is, sometimes.

With a twist of the calendar, those Bangladesh players scurrying for their lives in that mosque could have been Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi and Hashim Amla on tour. They also go to prayers. They also feel the assault on their religion.

Consider that for a moment. Tahir has been immense for his country, and his influence will be felt for a long, long time.

Smiling, spinning and thrilling. Truly, we need more Tahirs in the world.

Thanks, Immy Bhai.


Sunday Tribute

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ImranTahir5243 - We need more Tahirs around

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