Shoaib Malik’s always been hugely popular with a certain segment of Pakistan fans and we’ve never remotely understood why. He’s always seemed so nondescript.
He’s long had some sort of PR machine behind him which, as well as skewing our perception of his popularity a touch, may have won over a few people – but it wouldn’t have that much impact, would it? Those who follow sport aren’t generally won over by marketing hype for long.
At least now, with a whopping double hundred to his name, there’s some sort of justification. It’s still not an explanation though. Unless you have recourse to a flux capacitor and 1.21 gigawatts of power, explanations have to come beforehand, not afterwards.
So what’s the appeal?
We can only presume that for Pakistan fans, Shoaib Malik seems wildly exotic. Amid all the fast bowlers, wrist spinners and dashing stroke-makers, a lumpen, plodding batsman who bowls a bit of finger spin must really stand out. Local TV probably runs fawning documentaries about Dan Vettori during lunch intervals.