Great journalism shines a spotlight into the darkness. As a Pulitzer-aspiring column, the Briefing is renowned for its unflinching reportage, its no-holds-barred exposés (editors, put the line on top of that last word), and its superlative use of punctuation. In the last week, a story that only the Briefing can cover in depth has taken over the cricket world. We are, of course, referring to the saga of Pak Bean. Behold our full investigative report.
What is the Saga of Pak Bean?
In 2016, before evil had entered the world, "Pak Bean" made a mockery of the nation of Zimbabwe. At a show in Harare, where patrons expected the OG "Bean Rowan", an imitator from Pakistan arrived instead. This obviously left the audience discontented. The show was obviously a flop. For six years, a nation lay waiting for vengeance. In 2022, an opportunity arose when Zimbabwe played Pakistan at the T20 World Cup. Twitter user @DregChasura gave voice to the ire of 15 million Zimbabweans with this tweet:
What happened in the Pakistan vs Zimbabwe game?
As the Briefing is committed to top-drawer journalism in which all sides are given a fair hearing, we contacted the man who played Mr Bean at that Harare event, to get his side of the story. Below is the full transcript of the interview.
The Briefing's exclusive interview with Pak Bean actor
Briefing: "Oh hey, what's up, you overloaded cargo ship of complete and utter human trash."
Pak Bean Guy (sounding like a sleepy dolt): "Uhh, hello? Who is this?"
Briefing: "Don't act dumb. Why did you do it Pak Bean? You make me sick. Did you really think you could get away with it? Idiot. Look what's happened now to your cricket team. Are you happy?"
Pak Bean: "What time is it?... It's 2.55 in the morning."
Briefing: "The time? What about the time you reportedly defrauded dozens of people? Have you even had the decency to apologise to the nation of Zimbabwe? Or are you, as we all already know, an arrogant donkey?"
Pak Bean: "Hang on. (whispers) I have no idea who it is, honey. I think it's a prank call…"
Briefing: "Prank? What about when you pranked perhaps as many as 60 Zimbabweans at an agricultural show? Remember that, you Olympic gold medal-worthy dimwit?"
Pak Bean: "(Whispering, again, like a coward) …Yes okay. I'll hang up, I'll hang up.
"Look, I don't know who you are. I'm hanging up."
Briefing: "You will never be Bean Rowan, you human haemorrhoid. Do you hear me? You don't even have the mannerisms down.
"You didn't even lick your lips like him. Your hand gestures are way off. You're even bad at being a fraud. Your cheap suit looks like it was made of goat hair. See what happens if you ever go back to Zimbabwe again, you scamming piece of Brachiosaurus-sized sh… Hello? Hello?"
Briefing (relentlessly pursuing the truth in the name of journalism): "Listen, if you think you've hung up on me you've got another think coming… [and on until phone runs out of disk space to record in]"
While it is the duty of top-drawer journalists to report what has already happened, even-higher-drawer journalists will attempt to report what will happen.
A brief match report from a Pakistan vs Zimbabwe game in 2035
It seems as if Pakistan will finally break free.
It has been 13 long years. In that time the Pakistani government has spent half its budget sending Bean Rowan to Zimbabwe to atone for the sins of the past. He has met dignitaries, put on grand shows in the cities, driven his Mini car through the countryside.
And when Pakistan are on the cusp of victory on home turf, only 10 needed from the last 12 balls, with five wickets to spare, Shahid Afridi at the crease (he has made another comeback), it seems a sure thing. There are whispers around the stadium.
"The jinx. It has finally been broken."
The Zimbabwe team gathers together. They have thrashed this opposition at every instance since the first Bean Showdown of 2022.
This time, though, they are up against it. Perhaps a great debt has now been repaid.
But something magical happens. The Zimbabwe captain rallies his troops. He asks them to cast their minds back to the agricultural show in 2016. When instead of Bean Rowan, a handful of their countrymen were forced against their will to contend with the fraudulent Pak Bean, bringing great, interminable shame to their proud nation.
"Will we Zimbabweans stand for this? Feel the anger of Pak Bean in your bones," the captain screams. Within seconds, his players are screaming with him.
In the minutes that follow, five Pakistan wickets fall, a stadium is silenced, and only the Zimbabwe players' jubilation is heard in the surrounding quiet.
It is no mere jinx, fans say, as they depart heartbroken. It is a generational curse. The scourge of Pak Bean.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf