January 31, 2010

Michael Jeh

What was Afridi thinking?

Michael Jeh

Shahid Afridi’s actions today rank right up there with Dumb & Dumber © Getty Images

This weekend, I’ve seen some things on cricket fields which redefine stupidity. First cab off the rank - without even knowing what will become of the inevitable interview with the match referee, Shahid Afridi’s actions today rank right up there with Dumb & Dumber.

I write this post, barely ten minutes after the finish of a tense game in Perth, so I don’t even know if Afridi has been summoned to a “please explain” with Ranjan Madugalle or not, but I’d be hugely surprised if we see him at the MCG on Friday night. Goodness knows what he was thinking or what his excuse will be for seemingly gnawing away at the cricket ball, but as captain it really begs the question of whether he is true leadership material. He has always been accused of playing stupid shots while batting but that is also his charm and excitement. This latest incident has no up side.

I daresay there will be the usual protestations of wide-eyed innocence but I’m not sure if it will wash this time around. Umar Gul’s earnest conversation with him during a subsequent break in play seemed to be about anything but the next bowling change. Of course, that is only my guess but I reckon the dressing room would have been sending urgent messages to the captain, trying to find ways to put out fires that will burn long into the night. Actually, leading up to that incident, his leadership seemed pretty inspiring, in stark contrast to what Mohammad Yousuf's charisma looks like from afar, watching on TV. However, the TV coverage of the 'bitegate' was not pretty – as much as I love watching Afridi play, I just can’t imagine what excuse will save his skin this time.

Running a very close second to his stupidity was the (presumably inebriated) spectator who invaded the WACA ground and tackled Khalid Latif. In fact, in terms of player safety and the spirit of the game, that action deserves nothing short of contempt. It is to Latif’s credit that he scrambled to his feet with a smile on his face and did his best to make light of what was a very potentially serious incident. If he was an international footballer (soccer), Latif would have done four death rolls and writhed in pain for a few minutes until he got sufficient TV coverage and then sprung to his feet like a startled gazelle when the magic sponge was applied! Fortunately, these Pakistani cricketers are a tough bunch of lads.

On a far less public stage, I witnessed (again and again) an umpire in club cricket who persisted in dropping his lighted cigarette butts on the edge of the field as he walked out to start each new session. Apart from the litter and hygiene aspects, most of Australia is normally in the midst of some fire ban or the other. The horrors of the Victorian bushfires, barely a year ago, should still be vivid in our minds, especially considering some of those killer blazes were allegedly ignited through carelessness or murderous intent. And yet, grown adults, entrusted with some leadership roles, repeatedly do this sort of thing! My two-year old son, accustomed to coming down and playing on the fringes of the oval, picked up one of these butts and was about to suck on it in curiosity when I intervened just in time. When confronted on the issue, the umpire initially tried to deny it but soon realised that the evidence was overwhelming. Dumb, Dumber and now Butthead!

Final observation on less than clever things I’ve seen this weekend? Pakistan’s continued obsession with Younis Khan at the top of the order. With Imran Farhat waiting in the wings, a dead rubber and a batsman clearly out of his depth on Australian pitches (on this tour anyway), it seemed like a deliberate own goal to keep sending him out at No. 3. His inability to score off the short ball meant he was just pinned back in the crease, chewing up valuable balls in the Powerplay and then forced to play away from his body, nicking to keeper or slip. If it was essential that he played in all 5 games (I can’t think of why but….), why didn’t they allow him to ease into things gently at 5 or 6 when the field is usually spread and singles are more easily available?

Pakistan’s cricket this summer has been a series of inexplicable events. Unquestioned talent, missed opportunities, daft cricket at times and a real lack of sensing the moments when the game swung on a knife’s edge. It was a fitting end to the tour really, to see the game won with a lobbed catch off a waist high no-ball. I read just now that the chief selector has just resigned too. Another tour that promised so much and has so far delivered sweet nothing. Isn't that oh so Pakistan!

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

RSS Feeds: Michael Jeh

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Arul Pandian on (February 25, 2010, 4:59 GMT)

Well, this information on pakistani bowlers for you guys who think afridi should b ashamed. In pakistan ball tampering is not an issue at all when they play domestic cricket, cos they want the ball to make movement, when they are in such level, even when it comes to international, there prominence to ball tampering is lesser than all other international sides. But i don lik to say what afridi did was right, but it would be better if they could just deal with it and play international with its rules. I being indian love the way palistani's do play jus love their cricket, i hope pakistani's wil come back for the world t20 and llift it again!!

Posted by Muhammad Adeel on (February 18, 2010, 7:34 GMT)

Afridi had done mistake and he accept it openly. Obviously he took wrong and deceptive approach for winning and he has been punished and banned as well for 2 T20's. Now i believe he is really a team player and in this worst situation of Pakistan team, he is the only player who can team the entire team, he is the only one who can raise team moral. We should forget Afridi mistake and looking forward to T20 world cup.

Posted by Khalid on (February 17, 2010, 5:46 GMT)

In my opinion it was well planned move. Afridi made handsome money from this move and handed over the captaincy to Shoaib Malik who is supported by the match fixing mafia.

Posted by Tahir Mahmood on (February 16, 2010, 6:56 GMT)

Afridi is a very good and winning player. Specially when he is in good touch, treat to watch his strokes. He improved a lot in spin bowling, because his opponent team always afraid from his bowl that hit stump between gate of bat/pad. About ball tempering this is not first time from any pakistani. We have support him.

Posted by Straight6 on (February 12, 2010, 9:02 GMT)

I always did think that Afridi is not Captain material.He seems to be one of those players who I thought would be a better performer if he's not Captain. There were many good players who were not fortune enough to Captain their country, I lost my faith in him ever since he pivoted on the wkt against England.That also made the headlines for the wrong reasons and so has this,this one being the worst as Captain. I think when the new management comes in they should strip him from Captaincy and say to him that he should leave his childlike behaviour at home, because when these players wear the Pakistan blazer, they are representing their country with the greatest respect. Not every good cricketer who has talent,gets the opportunity to represent Pakistan,such is life. Abdul Razzaq is the rite man to Captain Pakistan in both ODI and T/20 and they need to speak to Younus Khan for Test Captaincy,becoz PCB have invested in Younus for long timet and he has vast experience to lead the country.

Posted by Sarfraz Hamid on (February 11, 2010, 6:27 GMT)

Afridi is a great player, he has beeen punished Please close the chapter, let him play lot of cricket has to come out him.

Posted by Shahid on (February 10, 2010, 23:15 GMT)

ONLY HOPE FOR PAKISTAN CRICKET I SEE IS Shane Warne AS COACH AND afridi AS CAPTAIN. FIRE THE OLD PLAYERS AND BUILD A YOUNG TEAM. COACH SHOULD SELECT A TEAM LIKE IN FOOTBALL.

Posted by shehryar aftab on (February 9, 2010, 10:39 GMT)

no problem its a part of game he is only eager to win for win at any cost so thats why he have commited that mistake.after all he is the great cricketer in the world and also big asset for pakistan he must be the captain in future

Posted by KHAN on (February 9, 2010, 1:57 GMT)

Well commented by all the folks here. Of course Afridi is guilty for the act but it is not the first time and alone by Afridi, almost every seasoned player has done it in his career. However, how can the folks relate this to his captaincy and leadership skills. Before blaming anything on his skills, dont forget Afridi was and is the only player in the world cricket who did magics and miracles in almost every department of cricket. PCB and Pakistan cannot afford cricket without AFRIDI. Above all sports are for entertainment and we cannot compare any other entertainment in the world with Afridi's wrath on the creese over the bowlers especially if they are INDIANS. Cheers

Posted by faisal channah on (February 8, 2010, 11:53 GMT)

He must be punished and removed from pakistan team,as he has created a bad name for the country.

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Jeh
Born in Colombo, educated at Oxford and now living in Brisbane, Michael Jeh (Fox) is a cricket lover with a global perspective on the game. An Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, he is a Playing Member of the MCC and still plays grade cricket. Michael now works closely with elite athletes, and is passionate about youth intervention programmes. He still chases his boyhood dream of running a wildlife safari operation called Barefoot in Africa.

All articles by this writer