Every now and then, growing up, you meet certain kinds of people. Extraordinary freaks of nature, who seem to have the ability to do everything extremely well. It’s almost like they have more time in their hands, like they cheat the very laws of nature, in order to excel at everything they do.
It might have been your classmate, your brother, the kid in the neighbourhood your father always compared you to. The kid was good in his academics, played a sport, was part of a band and was on his way to becoming an absolute legend in life.
Now imagine a 24-year-old English cricketer of Pakistani origin who made his debut against Bangladesh in the recent Test series. 3 years prior to his Test debut, he completed a double major in politics and sociology, a first-of-its-kind from Cambridge University.
We’re speaking about Zafar Ansari, who scored an industrious 32 from 83 balls on day 2 in his first outing on Indian soil. He came in to bat at number 10 when the pitch was doing much more than it had on the first day. Batting so low in the order does no justice to the left-handed batsman who bats at number 4 for Surrey and has also opened the batting for them for one entire season.
In his first-class career, he has scored nearly 3000 runs at an average of 36, with 3 hundreds and 15 half-centuries. But he didn’t make it to the team because of his prowess with the bat, but because of his ability to bowl spin. A slow left-arm orthodox bowler, he has taken 124 wickets in his first-class career.
Having been given a chance against India in friendly spin conditions, Zafar Ansari would like to pounce and cement his place in the England setup. Oh, I almost forgot, he’s a concert pianist, too.
Stems from the family
Zafar’s father, Khizar Ansari is a professor of Islam and Cultural Diversity in the department of history at the University of London. His mother, Sarah, heads the same department.
It was obvious that Zafar Ansari would always be oriented towards the intellectual aspects of life given his upbringing, and that reflects in the way he thinks about his cricket too. He has often said that cricket is just one part of his life, and not his entire life. “I have really tried to treat cricket as something I do and not something I am,” he has said in the past.
Despite the numerous achievements in his son’s life, Khizar Ansari is most proud of Zafar’s achievements on the cricket field. “Cambridge was a special moment. But nobody has got near Test cricket in our family. Very few have reached that level in England. He’s No. 673 in over a century-and-a-half. As a historian, this means a huge amount of me,” he said to The Indian Express.
While AB de Villiers has for long held the candle as the most multi-talented cricketer on the planet, with his skills in golf, rugby, tennis and other sports, cricket now has a new hero. Zafar Ansari is undoubtedly one of the most qualified cricketers of all-time. He’s joined the England setup at a very exciting time for the team, as they look as good as any team in the world, and could be an all-conquering side in the years to come.
With Ansari set to make more headlines in the days to come, his other achievements will come into the limelight. And his legend will grow.