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March 24, 2010

Boom Boom

Afridi brings hope and uncertainty

Kamran Abbasi


Shahid Afridi, chosen for now to lead Pakistan's defence of the World T20 title, brings hope and uncertainty © Associated Press
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Pakistan cricket, impulsive by nature, has appointed its most impulsive captain. Shahid Afridi, chosen for now to lead Pakistan's defence of the World T20 title, brings hope and uncertainty. Many Pakistan fans have lived an odyssey with Afridi, mesmerised by every twist of fortune and wishing him to grow into a player of genuine stature. Mr Boom Boom has been handed an opportunity to live their dream.

Afridi has been a box office cricketer for over a decade but when you analyse his career there are few moments of greatness. A record breaking first hundred in Nairobi, a match-winning Test century in Chennai, and then the World Twenty20 victory. The last two events were a decade apart. His career has been one of spasms of joy punctuating long pauses of disappointment for him and his supporters. Afridi has often thrilled but he has rarely transcended.

His critics, many of whom are Pakistan supporters, will be disappointed at this appointment. Afridi's temperament can be as erratic as his batting. He has had bust ups with team mates, scuffed a Test wicket with a dancer's swivel, and, in perhaps his maddest moment, gnawed a cricket ball when he was captaining his country. Afridi, say his critics, brings uncertainty and every chance that he will further dishonour his people. I beg to differ.

Captaincy is a complex art. Pakistan cricket is a complex environment. Yet the mess that Pakistan cricket finds itself in, much of it self inflicted, demands a simple methodology. Pakistan require their captain to lead from the front. Any dispute of that point was emphatically dismissed by the depression of Mohammad Yousuf's captaincy. Pakistan also require their captain to be aggressive, equally willing to light the fire in the bellies of his fellows and inflame the opposition. A tactical genius would be welcome but isn't essential. Passion goes a long way in Pakistan cricket.

The battered Pakistan team, despite its status as World T20 Champions, is screaming out for the defiance and attitude of Afridi. The challenge for Pakistan's new leader will be to control his most erratic urges, the ones that transgress the laws of cricket. Afridi can do it, provided he is properly supported by his colleagues and management, both of which are unfortunately open to question. But Afridi must be his own man, unbowed by this month's powerplay by the Pakistan Cricket Board. It is always better for a leader to be true to his convictions than, to use an immortal phrase, be a 'dummy' captain.

Shahid Afridi, of course, knows only one way. That is his appeal and his necessity. He brings hope that Pakistan can salvage something from the suicide bomb detonated by the PCB. More than ultimate victory in the T20 World Cup, Pakistan fans should be looking for a united spirit from their team and a competitiveness that has been absent since they lifted the trophy at Lord's. Indeed, in the absence and reluctance of Younis Khan, Afridi is Pakistan's best candidate to lead his country in all three formats.

Whatever the outcome, the Age of Mr Boom Boom will be compulsive viewing.

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Posted by Riz on (May 2, 2010, 23:07 GMT)

Another pathetic performance by Pak against Aus. They cannot get monket off their back. I am shocked how horrible our bowlers looked, and lack of guidance from a bowling coach in Waqar. He needs to show he is making a difference or else he'll be yet another casualty in Pak coaching lineup, and we'll have to revert back to Mushtaq or Miandad. Hope Afridi learnt his lesson not to bowl Hafeez. What is the point of having Razzaq and Fawad in the team if they are not bowling and coming at number 7 and 8?

Posted by Sameer frm Kashmir on (April 29, 2010, 3:10 GMT)

Afridi is a real sensation for PAK.We can win the T20 title yet again.But need to be positive and aggresive.Razzak,ajmal,aamir,hafeez,akmals,asif,fawad will be the key.

Posted by Brigadier Mir Ijaz Mahmood SJ FF on (April 23, 2010, 14:14 GMT)

Dear Abbasi, Your article makes a lot of sense; and unlike most of your countrymen you wrote reasonable English! Afridi is by far the most talented cricketer of the last decade & a half. He could have been another Collie Smith but could never bear out his potential because of his personal lack of thought and the utter inanity of Mujib, Zia, Ashraf & the present clown. He should have been given a full-time councellor, a supply of ice-packs and automatic selection in all three forms of the game. He has sat out matches and tours for mediocrities and nonentities. His test batting average is just short of 40 and he has not played in a test for ages ! Even in ODIs & Twenty/20 he has made a veritable comeback by sheer raw talent. If the PCB had been even averagely intelligent and reasonably objective, by now Afridi would have had an average of 45 (at a match-winning strike rate) 250 test wickets and infinitely better ODI figures. He is the only ATHLETE in the Pakistani cricket firmament.

Posted by Nawaz on (April 19, 2010, 13:01 GMT)

plz comon shoaib akhtar in aus series. and I am not happy of PCB because why choose khalid latif in pakistan T20 team .

Posted by Kamil on (April 19, 2010, 12:15 GMT)

Shahid Afridi has been playing with the living legends of cricket, to name a few Inzamam Ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousof and Wasim Akram. Shahid has gone through different leadership and he has confronted with ups and downs of Pakistan cricket. He is at least for now, the only suitable candidate to fill up the captaincy slot for Pakistan. Cricket is no doubt a funny game, but Pakistan being the power house of cricket should not whining about the past. Pakistan must "clean up" its internal problems and moving forward to rehabilitate the team which has lost its shine. Pakistan is no short of talents but it is lack of consistency. Lets hope for Shahid Afridi and his team success in the upcoming tournament.

Posted by khalid on (April 9, 2010, 3:45 GMT)

afidi is a great motivative personality in his captionship pakistan will win insha allah

Posted by Mohammad Aslam Kuwait. on (April 7, 2010, 10:40 GMT)

I feel first time PCB( Not Butt) has done something good for cricket of appointing Afridi as a captain of T20.Butt must be taken off from PCB if you want to see Pakistan cricket team on winning stand.Is it due to Mohsin Khan?So Imran should take over from Butt it is high time.Afridi must be made captain for ODI also upto world cup 2011. Yousuf and Younus must be brought for test cricket otherwise there is no difference between Pakistan test cricket and Zimbabwe test cricket.Our coach should work hard only on fielding and catching practice otherwise with big score or taking wicket earlier will not win you the match.Afridi should paly through out his life,like he played in t20 semi and final and NO BOOM BOOM FOR THE SAKE OF PAKISTAN.I request Amar to bowl good line and length even at slow speed to get more wickets and not widesssss.Good luck for T20 and world cup.PAKISTAN ZINDABAD...........

Posted by Mohammad Asad on (April 6, 2010, 14:36 GMT)

At present situation, Afridi is the only one who is capable to lead the team. Now he is very much matured. Good luck for him and PAK team... By the way.......Is Khaled Latif is a T20 format player ???

Mohammad Asad from USA.

Posted by Fazil Ahamed, India on (March 29, 2010, 14:04 GMT)

Masha Allah. Nice post. I totally agree with you Mr.Kamran. Afridi is the best choice. He is a great allrounder in all the three formats. He is the best choice for captaining the Pakistan Cricket.

Insha Allah, he will win this World Cup.

Posted by Amran Yousaf on (March 29, 2010, 0:10 GMT)

Osman bhai,another top article. I said before the last T20 that we needed to make Pakistan proud,we won,Afridi got us there along with Umar Gul. Since then Pakistan has gone downhill,our cricket,hockey and squash teams have floundrered. Only our military has given us something to smile about with our jawans restoring some semblance of order to our beloved country and hopefully one day bringing cricket back to Pakistan. What we need now is our teams to show the same pride,commitment and patriotism and fight that our military has shown. These pampered superstars need to know that wearing the Pakistan shirt is the pinnacle of your life not just a path to money. Maybe they should swap their shirts with our jawans bullet proof vests? Then they may realise how lucky they are. Afridi is the only man who can have the effect on the team that General Kayani has on our jawans, Lets see if our pampered superstars can respond in the same way. Despite everything I love my Pakistan

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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 international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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