Pakistan cricket June 13, 2009

'I like a tough life, you know' - Afridi

The Pakistan management haven’t always known what to do with their maverick entertainer Shahid Afridi over the years. If the men who mattered had given him a chance in Tests when he started instead of stamping him as a one-day players, things might have been a lot different, Afridi tells cricket magazine Spin in a rare and free-wheeling interview. Apart from his career, Afridi talks about his philosophy of batting, the history of bust-ups in the Pakistan dressing-room and his love of guns. Excerpts:

Have you had captains and coaches shout at you over getting out irresponsibly?
In the old days, two or three years ago. When I came off, and I was saying bad things to myself about how I’d got out and I was trying to take my pads off and the coach is standing over me going “What the f**k you doing, what kind of shot was that?”

You retired for a full fortnight back this April. What was that about?
When the India tour finished, I said I’m not playing anymore: you guys are playing too much cricket, you can’t expect me to perform in both times of cricket. It’s not like a sport now, it’s like a business. So I wanted a rest. And some time to spend with my kids. This is the right age to spend time with your kids – when they get older, they just keep themselves in their rooms!

Why has the team got more religious in the last five or ten years?
It’s not five or ten years, it’s only the last two years. One of our religious leaders in Pakistan worked very hard on us, told us that there’s something apart from cricket. When this life ends, was it all about just hitting fours and sixes? They tried to put good things in our heads, to make us good people, to be all-round people. And that’s the type of situation we’re in now. God has changed our lives now. We’re not drinking or going with girls or clubbing. We’re trying to be good Muslims. So our life has become very simple, very good, very down to earth. If we perform or not, we are satisfied from the inside.

Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo