We can't deny it.
We, at FP Special Forces, are huge fans of Sean Connery.
It's not just because of the James Bond films, but it must be said that he was our favourite Bond. Why? Well, it's because he wasn't boring, he wasn't a flash-in-the-pan in that role, he wasn't Welsh, he wasn't a Jason Bourne wannabe and he doesn't shill for Pan Bahar. We're certain we've covered all of them.
But as we said, it's not just because of the Bond films. Over the course of his career, Connery has provided those moments of profundity, levity and sagacity that have been of invaluable assistance when it comes to making sense of the world at large.
It is for that very reason that we turned to Big Tam and his wisdom in our time of need: That need being the need to make sense of why Pakistani cricketers Javed Miandad and Shahid Afridi are at each other's throats. Where does this acrimony stem from? So much so that the phrase 'match-fixing' would be hurled around?
For those unfamiliar with the ways of South Asia, calling someone a 'match-fixer' in Pakistan is as grave as calling someone 'anti-national' in India. Fact.
Now, where were we?
Ah yes, Big Tam.
It was during a weekly viewing of The Rock — yes, it's a ritual at FP Special Forces HQ — that it hit us. Trust The Rock to have all the answers. It is after all a crucial chapter, perhaps the most crucial chapter, of director Michael Bay's golden years before he went off the rails and began playing with cars that turn into robots or vice versa. Anyway, there's a scene in which Connery's character, the very stately-sounding John Patrick Mason, is being interrogated behind a two-way mirror. Sharp as he is and undulled by all those years behind bars, Mason realises it's a two-way mirror and smashes a hole in it.
And that's when he spots him:
"Womack! Why am I not surprised, you piece of s**t?" he thunders.
We looked past the fact that while he claimed not to be surprised, that expression betrayed anything but a lack of surprise.
So how does this relate to Afridi, Miandad and their very public fracas?
Just as Mason had to return to Alcatraz — his point of origin, story-wise at least — in order to be able to save the day, we too need to return to the point of origin of this spat: Afridi's request for a farewell match. That and a quick history lesson made it all so clear. The whole match-fixing thing was just a smokescreen. The real issue was the farewell match. Bear in mind — and this was the key bit of evidence that brought the pieces together — Afridi and Miandad have never represented Pakistan together. Note: We're not talking about exhibition matches or 'legends' matches here, only the real stuff.
It's now 2016, and Afridi seeks a farewell match. Miandad was always going to have a problem with this and therein lies Afridi's 'Womack!' moment. Miandad never had a farewell match per se. In fact, this was his farewell from international cricket:
Clearly, that was the reason Miandad was always going to get riled up whenever the talk of farewell matches came up. All this talk of 'match-fixing' is just a smokescreen.
In fact, Afridi was also in on it. Which is why he wasn't surprised and delivered the following remark in the context of farewell matches:
"That's the difference between him (Miandad) and Imran Khan"