Pakistan February 23, 2010

A night at Afridi World

A beautiful place where time before the Big Boom was spent by Pakistan acting like silly billies
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The deep-conditioning and exfolliating worked. The big screen loves me © Getty Images
 

Saturday’s Twenty20 game was an intriguing desert clash between England and a Shahid Afridi XI at a venue that could have been renamed Afridi World for the night. Among the Aztec hats, carnival masks, fluffy toys and inflatable camels there was an abundance of banners and placards, and a brief survey revealed that 99% of them referenced Mr Boom. His appearances on the big screen (approximately once every 30 seconds) sparked waves of jubilation, and the entire occasion seemed to be building to one point: the moment when the man himself arrived at the crease. Time divided neatly into two periods: BA (Before Afridi) and AA (After Afridi).

One of the few banners not proclaiming Shahid-love exhorted the Pakistan players to “captain like Imran, bowl like Wasim and Waqar and bat like Aamer, Saeed and Ramiz”. But until Abdul Razzaq entered the arena, their batting had been more Mr Bean than Mr Raja.

British politician Dennis Healey had a habit of referring to people who behaved foolishly as “silly billies”. This phrase popped back into my head as I watched Imran Nazir set about the task of laying a solid platform for Pakistan’s run chase. The first ball was hit stylishly down the ground for four. The second was blocked. The third was dispatched swiftly to the palms of third man with a mighty forehand smash.

His opening partner proved no more resilient. Soon after Nazir’s departure, Imran Farhat hit the ball straight up in the air and watched the white sphere soar into the night sky, like a wide-eyed child amazed by a firework.

It got worse.

“Don’t do it, Umar!” pleaded Ramiz Raja in the commentary box as the younger Akmal tried to hit Swann out of the ground in exactly the same way that Afridi hadn’t. Umar did it anyway and was caught where Ramiz said he would be. Silly billies.

Once again, the hard work fell to Fawad Alam, the slightly built innings-repairman, who it seems is permanently on call, and Razzaq, who did pretty much what Nazir and Co had tried to do, but better and harder and with more swagger. His mighty timberwork bludgeoned England to the ground and supplanted Kevin Pietersen’s earlier biffery.

Pietersen, of course, provides more entertainment value than just his knack with the willow. He is an absolutely hilarious runner between the wickets, mainly because he does not regard it as necessary to notify his colleague of his intentions. He first collided with Trott when he took the wrong lane, and then a few balls later ran him out. He bats like a magician but he runs like a sprinter with a hearing problem who can’t be sure the starter has fired his pistol but isn’t taking any chances.

But it was Pakistan’s day and though they didn’t bat like Ramiz or bowl like Waqar, they do have an Imranesque captain in the wings, even though technically the little “c” on the scoreboard was next to someone else’s name. But all that Urdu you heard via the stump microphone emanated from Afridi. He was busy, enthusiastic, always on the move. In two or three years, his team-mates may find it annoying. For now, though, his energy can still jolt his team out of lethargy and he sets off little sparks of belief wherever he goes. Welcome to Afridi World.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nain Tara on March 9, 2010, 9:47 GMT

    BOOM BOOM AFRIDI !!!! Wel though he eats cricket balls but anyways v still love him.Crowds will always be his in the ground.

  • gopal on February 27, 2010, 22:34 GMT

    Shahid Afridi is still a young budding cricketer who hasn't still grown old with time.

  • Invictus on February 27, 2010, 9:27 GMT

    Afridi is the most over-rated cricketer of all times. He rarely score runs, his avg is like one 50/year. He's got like 4 100's in 300 ODI's he's played. He take a few wickets sometimes...thts all he does in cricket field...

    How does he makes the team is the bigger question rather thn "Should he be made captain? ...

    Post is open for ridicule...but it won't change my opinion... :)

  • Amana on February 25, 2010, 16:03 GMT

    All I gotta say is that Afridi is over-rated.

  • Waseem Sajid on February 25, 2010, 11:59 GMT

    Now I come to current Pak Team. I have been watching cricket since i was a young 6,7 years kid. and its about 17,18 years now. I always expirianced when ever Pak team emerged as power in World Cricket they 1stly faced same problem they are facing right now. And I am sure that dark night in pak cricket is near about its end. The sun will rise very soon. INSHALLAH...... PAKISTAN ZINDA BAAD

  • Anti on February 25, 2010, 10:21 GMT

    Well, Afridi is just a pinch hitter. He cant take the responsiblity to make his team win.

    Even if he remains as a Captian or become a Captian of sinking ship, doesnt matter, pakistan cricket is all in the hell now.. No World cup hosting, no home series. .. its sad for them

  • mahmood ali on February 25, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    afridi is very important player i think he is great if he come in no 1 as like as opener he is very effected for paki,s

  • fahim on February 24, 2010, 19:05 GMT

    No matter what , aggression required for the T20 for pakistan can only be delivered by Afridi... rest of the team will come togather if pakistan is given chance.. the surprise element which makes cricket by chance can only be associated to team like pakistan.. lets see once again in may2010 T20 though i believe this will be different then other T20s given the Windies conditions and pitches

  • Asif on February 24, 2010, 15:05 GMT

    Disagree ...I think Afridi should cap all three teams....we have no other options.

  • Rizwan on February 24, 2010, 8:40 GMT

    Still believe Afridi is the wrong man...Malik is the ideal captain...he is astute and tactically aware...Afridi's enthusiam will soon wane...and he doesn't play tests...winning 20/20 matches only is child's play...we need to win Test matches!

  • Nain Tara on March 9, 2010, 9:47 GMT

    BOOM BOOM AFRIDI !!!! Wel though he eats cricket balls but anyways v still love him.Crowds will always be his in the ground.

  • gopal on February 27, 2010, 22:34 GMT

    Shahid Afridi is still a young budding cricketer who hasn't still grown old with time.

  • Invictus on February 27, 2010, 9:27 GMT

    Afridi is the most over-rated cricketer of all times. He rarely score runs, his avg is like one 50/year. He's got like 4 100's in 300 ODI's he's played. He take a few wickets sometimes...thts all he does in cricket field...

    How does he makes the team is the bigger question rather thn "Should he be made captain? ...

    Post is open for ridicule...but it won't change my opinion... :)

  • Amana on February 25, 2010, 16:03 GMT

    All I gotta say is that Afridi is over-rated.

  • Waseem Sajid on February 25, 2010, 11:59 GMT

    Now I come to current Pak Team. I have been watching cricket since i was a young 6,7 years kid. and its about 17,18 years now. I always expirianced when ever Pak team emerged as power in World Cricket they 1stly faced same problem they are facing right now. And I am sure that dark night in pak cricket is near about its end. The sun will rise very soon. INSHALLAH...... PAKISTAN ZINDA BAAD

  • Anti on February 25, 2010, 10:21 GMT

    Well, Afridi is just a pinch hitter. He cant take the responsiblity to make his team win.

    Even if he remains as a Captian or become a Captian of sinking ship, doesnt matter, pakistan cricket is all in the hell now.. No World cup hosting, no home series. .. its sad for them

  • mahmood ali on February 25, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    afridi is very important player i think he is great if he come in no 1 as like as opener he is very effected for paki,s

  • fahim on February 24, 2010, 19:05 GMT

    No matter what , aggression required for the T20 for pakistan can only be delivered by Afridi... rest of the team will come togather if pakistan is given chance.. the surprise element which makes cricket by chance can only be associated to team like pakistan.. lets see once again in may2010 T20 though i believe this will be different then other T20s given the Windies conditions and pitches

  • Asif on February 24, 2010, 15:05 GMT

    Disagree ...I think Afridi should cap all three teams....we have no other options.

  • Rizwan on February 24, 2010, 8:40 GMT

    Still believe Afridi is the wrong man...Malik is the ideal captain...he is astute and tactically aware...Afridi's enthusiam will soon wane...and he doesn't play tests...winning 20/20 matches only is child's play...we need to win Test matches!

  • turabhasan on February 24, 2010, 5:22 GMT

    afridi has that charisma that former superstars in pakistan did. now it's only him, no one else is a star, which is sad for pakistan.

  • oops on February 24, 2010, 0:10 GMT

    you're a funny bloke, hugh.

    As to Afridi, be it known, He is the uncrowned King of Pakistan.

    Oh, and by the way, He is also the biggest crowd puller in the whole world. Period.

    And also, He, singlehandedly won the World Cup. How many of you critics have ever won anything at all, ever?

  • SUFIYAN AHMED on February 23, 2010, 20:02 GMT

    those who dont have nothing to do they can only comments on others,.,the whole world knows what is AFRIDI he is real BOOM BOOM

  • Waqas on February 23, 2010, 19:17 GMT

    I fairly beleive that he will bring a big change in Pak team in near future he is amazing personality and he lifts the team up always with his efforts as Kevin said what he did for South Australia...Afridi Zindabad

  • ali pak lover on February 23, 2010, 18:23 GMT

    afridi is the best and he is our hero .he will learn from his mistakes plz give him and pakistan cricket some space one day they will rule for sure

  • sal raja on February 23, 2010, 16:31 GMT

    afridi is a very confident guy wid lots of energy.... all he needs to do now tat he shows more consistency in his batting and bowling and lift the team as a real leader, Afridi deserves to lead the pakistani team in all formats of game nd i m sure he will b very gud in test as well....he is the only man pakistan cricket has got at the moment to get them out of this horrible run......

  • Mahboob Alam on February 23, 2010, 16:21 GMT

    I totally agree with you Hughes.. you are absolutely right... people who don't think Afridi is the best choice for Captaining Pak ODI & T20 squad, they are fools, they don't have anything to prove their judgement correct... He is the best ODI & T20 All-rounder by any means...

  • Irfan on February 23, 2010, 14:12 GMT

    I still remember when he was about to come to the Crease they put the song "Boom Boom" of Black Eyed Peas and it looks so megical .... crowd shouted boom boom , on his bat its boom boom ... so its boom boom every everywhere ...

    was it jeffery who named him Boom Boom?

  • Real Ist on February 23, 2010, 14:08 GMT

    How many runs/wickets did Afridi take in that match? Did he get any catches? Was he in any way a reason as to why Pakistan won? Is he ever? Or do people in Pakistan just like saying Boom Boom....

  • Kevin Kingston on February 23, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    I believe there is hardly anyone else in 20/20 that could match the charisma Shahid got and what a great Crowed puller he is. He made our SA reach Final and what a shame that he could not play final and we lost in his absence. I believe it would be great if he let his opponents eat balls and he runs and wickets.... I truly believe that Pak is the best 20/20 side and needs him. TA, Kev

  • Kumar on February 23, 2010, 11:41 GMT

    Afridi is regarded as one of the super starts in Pakistan and most probably with his enthusiasm he will lift the currently demoralised lot and make them compete against the very best. This looks likely to be the best option available to Pakistan these days.

  • Muhammad Afrasyab on February 23, 2010, 10:58 GMT

    Afridi Boom Boom... we love him and love him because he has some thing in him. He has a record of 37 balls 100 and hold it for 14 years now and my hero and pakistan's hero will keep it for may be 20 more years in the ODI arena. And he will prove himself best captain of pakistan in future with the avaiable resources.

    love you afridi....

  • Bishart on February 23, 2010, 10:56 GMT

    i Agree with u mate.Afridi is only captain pakistan need this time and for a long time.we love afridi.we love his energy.we love his spirit. and yes Abu dhabi is Afridi world only.coz of lot reasons.and thanks for this note.

  • Imran Khan on February 23, 2010, 10:08 GMT

    Afridi is a real hero. He can really win the crowd. I wish him every success in his career.

    - Imran (Bangladesh)

  • ahsan on February 23, 2010, 9:30 GMT

    You lot nead to read the article Andrew wasn't rubbing it in. Fun read Andrew keep it up oh and yes we love Afridi in Pakistan.

  • Zuhair on February 23, 2010, 9:27 GMT

    I dont think Afridi would be the best captain. I till think the post best belongs to Malik for now. And Umar or Fawad in the future. Moreover, it was not Ramiz who was pleading form the commentary box to Umar AKmal - it was Amaer Sohail instead.

  • Irfan Khaan on February 23, 2010, 8:26 GMT

    Could'nt agree more with ya andrew.

  • alien on February 23, 2010, 7:46 GMT

    AFRIDI IS A CHAMP.... nd will remain 1 foreva... i dont care if he eats sumfin or doesnt.. HE IS DA BEST

  • jamshed on February 23, 2010, 6:51 GMT

    Please Andrew,stop rubbing it in.Afridi has to live with it for the rest of his days anyway.

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  • jamshed on February 23, 2010, 6:51 GMT

    Please Andrew,stop rubbing it in.Afridi has to live with it for the rest of his days anyway.

  • alien on February 23, 2010, 7:46 GMT

    AFRIDI IS A CHAMP.... nd will remain 1 foreva... i dont care if he eats sumfin or doesnt.. HE IS DA BEST

  • Irfan Khaan on February 23, 2010, 8:26 GMT

    Could'nt agree more with ya andrew.

  • Zuhair on February 23, 2010, 9:27 GMT

    I dont think Afridi would be the best captain. I till think the post best belongs to Malik for now. And Umar or Fawad in the future. Moreover, it was not Ramiz who was pleading form the commentary box to Umar AKmal - it was Amaer Sohail instead.

  • ahsan on February 23, 2010, 9:30 GMT

    You lot nead to read the article Andrew wasn't rubbing it in. Fun read Andrew keep it up oh and yes we love Afridi in Pakistan.

  • Imran Khan on February 23, 2010, 10:08 GMT

    Afridi is a real hero. He can really win the crowd. I wish him every success in his career.

    - Imran (Bangladesh)

  • Bishart on February 23, 2010, 10:56 GMT

    i Agree with u mate.Afridi is only captain pakistan need this time and for a long time.we love afridi.we love his energy.we love his spirit. and yes Abu dhabi is Afridi world only.coz of lot reasons.and thanks for this note.

  • Muhammad Afrasyab on February 23, 2010, 10:58 GMT

    Afridi Boom Boom... we love him and love him because he has some thing in him. He has a record of 37 balls 100 and hold it for 14 years now and my hero and pakistan's hero will keep it for may be 20 more years in the ODI arena. And he will prove himself best captain of pakistan in future with the avaiable resources.

    love you afridi....

  • Kumar on February 23, 2010, 11:41 GMT

    Afridi is regarded as one of the super starts in Pakistan and most probably with his enthusiasm he will lift the currently demoralised lot and make them compete against the very best. This looks likely to be the best option available to Pakistan these days.

  • Kevin Kingston on February 23, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    I believe there is hardly anyone else in 20/20 that could match the charisma Shahid got and what a great Crowed puller he is. He made our SA reach Final and what a shame that he could not play final and we lost in his absence. I believe it would be great if he let his opponents eat balls and he runs and wickets.... I truly believe that Pak is the best 20/20 side and needs him. TA, Kev