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October 24, 2006

Middle order

Afridi must rediscover his boom boom

Kamran Abbasi

Shahid Afridi is as much of an enigma as he ever was. Only a special cricketer can set pulses racing in the way Afridi does. When he succeeds he is audacious. But when he fails he is abysmal. Last year he showed the riches that his aggression, if controlled a little, could deliver for Pakistan cricket. His success was also as a result of the backing he received from coach and captain.

Yet sometime around Pakistan's tour to Sri Lanka, the boom boom went out of Afridi. He prematurely retired from Test cricket and since his return has failed to make an impact. What has gone wrong?

The tour of England was an unhappy one for Afridi. Inzamam held him back too late in the order for him to influence the innings when he had previously been a middle order stick of dynamite. My view on Afridi is that he seems to be a player who does respond to responsibility and this affront to his achievements set him back. By the time the one-day series came around Afridi was off form and the pitches were perfectly unsuited to his brand of bravado.

For these reasons I don't believe this summer's failures are an adequate indication of Afridi's value to the team. In India and in the West Indies the pitches will be tailor made for Afridi to rediscover his boom boom. It's what the specatators want and I'm sure television producers won't complain either.

But Afridi does need to change one thing. I agree with him that going in too late in the order is a waste of his unique talent. He does, however, need to be mentally prepared to go in anywhere between number 1 and 7 depending on the state of the game. This is not an unreasonable scenario for a mature cricketer. Afridi's oft stated request to bat at number 6 has the ring of an unnecessary obsession--and Afridi is a man of instinct not obesession.

All Pakistan fans--and many from other countries--need their dose of Boom Boom. He has looked a distracted cricketer for many months. One blitz will turn that distraction into joy.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Posted by Marty on (September 8, 2012, 0:53 GMT)

We could've done with that inshigt early on.

Posted by Vikram Maingi on (May 4, 2009, 11:53 GMT)

This man is a non-performer with the bat for a very long time now.

Posted by srinivas on (October 25, 2006, 9:15 GMT)

Afridi is a match winner with the bat. But for him to be effective,he has to open the innings. He also needs to curb his instincts a bit and get his eye in for 8-10 balls before lashing out. Afterall, now there are an additional 5 overs with fielding restrictions so no harm in playing a maiden over or two. Whenever he walks out to bat i hope to see a few mighty hits (even if it's against India)

Posted by Balaji on (October 25, 2006, 7:58 GMT)

Over the last few matches I see that Afridi has been a bit more consistent, especially the Indian series etc. He should be in the opening slot where he can turn the match with the Power Plays up & also made to bowl 10 overs. His role & batting position should be fixed as he can be very vital for Pakistan with his rich experience.

Posted by Soofian on (October 25, 2006, 7:51 GMT)

It is right that Afridi is not doing a valuable job these days for his team. As the pitch report said in the first 10 overs of today's match it would be difficult to play. So I think he should come lower down the order if batting first and if second then he should open the inning to take advantage of power play.

Posted by Omaire Mahmood on (October 25, 2006, 7:38 GMT)

I want Afridi to open because flat tracks suit him plus there is the new ball, fast outfield and powerplays in the ODI game. However the sad thing is that the Pakistan team have countless openers who have talent which should not be wasted. These openers have worked hard to to perfect on how to open the innings while Afridi has tried to perfect his game in all aspects - fielding, batting and bowling.

Posted by Faiz on (October 25, 2006, 0:55 GMT)

I'm agree with abbasi i'm a big big fan of he need good back up from his capt and couch he'll come back very soon could be tonight just relaxe

Posted by Peter on (October 25, 2006, 0:55 GMT)

Whenever Afridi comes out to bat, he somehow changes the course of the game. That's why he should be somewhere in the middile order, I think even as high as number 5 sometimes, especially with Inzi not there at the moment. In the Twenty20 match recently, he scored 28 of 10 balls to steal the match from the opposition. Sure he may throw his wicket away early, but if he's in the middle you can still have experienced batsmen coming in after him to keep the innings alive e.g. Razzaq. But he can provide the spark that ignites a huge total out of them and he can also score blistering 50s and 100s too, which, combined with his wicket taking ability too, is why you have to leave him in the team and take the good with the bad.

Posted by Babar on (October 25, 2006, 0:54 GMT)

Openers are going to set victories in the world cup. Australia,India and Sri Lanka will set their goals to have atleast 8 runs per over for the first 10 overs. Pakistan can win if AFRIDI is placed as a opener. There he must respond positivly. He has done it as a fastest century maker in Nairoby and he has done in India as well. He should stand up like a Pathan and face the challenge. Pakistan is going to face WI and SI after Champions Trophy, if he fails as middle order batsman, his days have been counted !

Posted by Atif Jafry on (October 25, 2006, 0:11 GMT)

Afridi is a very valuable bowler, and excellent fielder and do not forget his niggling mini confrontations with the batsmen to throw them off their game. These traits alone prove his selection a necessity. However people tend to focus on his batting only since its the most dramatic and when he fails with the bat, he fails in the people's minds and hearts and they never applaud his achievements and contribution with the ball, mouth and on the field.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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