A little over an year ago, I wrote about Mohammad Yousuf neâˆšÂ© Yousuf Youhana's conversion to Islam. In the post, I was a bit ambivalent about the symbolic force of that personal decision. A few months later, by happenstance, I ended up chatting with Yousuf over IM. He seemed geniunely excited and happy. And said that he felt a greater peace than ever before.
Well, that greater peace has enabled him to score more runs in any one calendar year in the history of cricket - at the astounding rate of 99.33 runs. Greater even than the great Viv Richards. The spin, in news stories everywhere, is that it is his faith that has enabled him this record-shattering run. God has helped me break this record, he says. Islam has helped him focus his skills and shaped the way he trains, supports his coach, Bob Wollmer.
Those who follow American football - or basketball etc. - are familiar with such stories of new-found religiosity impacting on-field performance. Kurt Warner, the rags-to-jesus quarterback for the St. Louis Rams* comes to mind. But, I cannot think of any other example from Cricket.
To my uninitiated mind, Muhammad Yousuf had a straight bat even before he found the straight path. Either way, it really is a remarkable feat and my heartiest congratulations to him.
update: dk pointed out Rob's brilliant comment to my last post. I just re-read it and must now reproduce it here for all.
I'm pretty sure Kurt Warner never played with the Saints. I wonder if you misstated the team or if you meant to say the current Saints QB, Drew Brees. In any case, acknowledging God for sports victory is hardly rare. I almost rooted against Michael Chang because I was sick of hearing him praise "my lord and saviour Jesus Christ" on the victory stand. Separation of church and sport, I say!
Westender: Sorry, Rams. Thx for the correction.
The conversion thing doesn't seem to work much in combat sports though. I know of a couple of fighters who found God and were subsequently beaten quite badly.
I don't necessarily agree with Bill Maher all the time, but he got one right when he said that he would like to see a baseball fielder thank god or cross himself after he floors a catch. If the big G made good things happen, he must be responsible for mess-ups too. :-)
Are you seriously entertaining the possibility that he's become a better cricketer for having dumped Christianity for Islam ? Did you consider that his "sense of peace" may have come from his not being picked on anymore in a country that famed for its intolerance and brutal treatment of minorities. Its exactly this mindset that has led to the minority population (Hindus, Christians and Sikhs) almost disappearing from Pakistan in the last 50 years.
not really related to the post, but thought you might enjoy this amusing nazm about cricket by saaghar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q99IY3mgOu0