is from Tasmania
But it’s tricky
for those who’re from Talisman-ia’
“Freddie is their talisman”. Through the Ashes, through the English summers, through every game that Freddie plays, you’re bound to hear, that cockney sparkle in Bumble’s voice announce, “make no mistake… Freddie is England’s talisman” It’s as if the word talisman was made to coexist with Freddie’s exploits. It didn’t matter how much or how little he did, he was Freddie Flintoff, he was England’s talisman – “and any ball now, any ball now, England could be released”
If Freddie is doing too little, or indisposed, that is easily explained by injury or lack of support from the other end – the price Freddie pays for being leader of the pack and being bowled into the ground or falling off the ship.
The closest to Freddie in the Indian ranks is Yuvi. Listen, how similar they sound – Freddie, Yuvi. And how both have similarly underachieved, yet in our heart’s eye, they’re simply the best. They can change the cricket world on its axis, and a game, with a glare. They aren’t entirely about cricket, nor can they be – their appeal is beyond sport, and for them, we are always game. We can't get enough of them – nor can the billboards or the bimbos. They are the quintessential star players.
Across the border, the closest such star that defies logic is Afridi. He has his own jingle – Boom Boom Afridi! It’s part of every Paki banner to every com box in every land that Boom Boom does or doesn’t do his Boom Boom in.
Another fascinating similarity between these players is how we accept them, almost in spite of themselves – “all is forgiven, come home Yuvi” Slack fitness, repeat injuries and offences are easily overlooked, rock star ways are wantonly indulged. It could have been Mick Jagger and not Freddie, and we wouldn’t have known the difference.
In the Windies, their super boy talisman is captain, Gayle. The yellow shades, the Rastafari swagger, every match is a T20 and I will bowl-a-few approach.
Australia had Symonds, and then Symonds had Australia, and then they both had enough – but teams like Pakistan, India, England, and even the Windies continue to challenge themselves.
Is it because these players do not just determine the outcome of a game, they dictate the very commerce of cricket.
Mildfred: What’re you rebelling against, Johnny?”
Johnny: Whaddya got?
They are the Johnnies, the wild ones, the rebels – and it doesn’t matter if they win a game, score a run, or run through the batting, the fact that they’re playing means anything can happen.
It’s as much their frailties as their super achieving powers that make them. We accept them not just because of what they do, but because of what they could have done.
We lost a game but had Yuvi fired we would have surely won. It is always within Freddie’s grasp. And like you saw, if Afridi gets firing you win the World Cup.
These guys do it on their own. With them it ceases to be a team sport. It is a one man show. And that’s what the movies are about. And that’s where we love to live. Because reality bites.
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