West Indies November 5, 2011

The wild life of Shahid Afridi

Where do you think he was during his latest retirement stint?

Wednesday, 2nd November Something strange is afoot. Back at the soggy end of September, Graeme Swann suggested that West Indies hadn’t bowled well enough to dismiss England for 88. And yet the scoreboard read, “England 88 all out”. Mysterious. And now history has repeated itself. “They hardly got us out,” said Bangladeshi captain Mushfiqur Rahim, after some bowlers or other had dismissed the Tigers for 278.

Every time West Indies roll into town, the home team suddenly and mysteriously begin losing wickets. What is going on? Is it a conspiracy? Have the men from the Caribbean finally managed to incorporate Klingon cloaking technology, making Marlon Samuels invisible to the naked eye? Or could it be that they’ve found a decent bowling attack and the rest of the world is being a little ungracious?

Thursday, 3rd November Give praise to the god of satire, for Afridi is back! His unconditional unretirement (slight return) means that the cricket world is approximately 10% more interesting in real terms. So how have you been keeping, Shahid?

"I am strong, fit and in good shape to cover the wild period I had lost during the time of retirement.”

Wild period? Sounds intriguing. Tell us more about this wild period. Did you grow dreads and journey across Outer Mongolia in a beat-up multicoloured camper van? Did you have a tattoo of a man eating a cricket ball with the legend “Lala likes leather for lunch” across your upper back? Did you spend some time in the jungles of Borneo, learning how the orangutan deals with the outswinger?

Oh, you played for Hampshire. Well, that’s pretty wild, I guess. But his return to the one-day squad was not a formality and as always, the Pakistan selection committee carefully weighed up the pros and cons in an objective and dispassionate manner.

“He is like a son to me,” said interim selector Mohammad Ilyas, “And his selection is not unfair.”

Friday, 4th November Colossal fiscal incompetence is everywhere it seems, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see cricket boards following the fashion for financial stupidity. Our old friends, SLC built a lot of grounds that they couldn’t afford to run and so, naturally enough, have handed them over to the military. I’m not entirely sure what the military would want with cricket stadiums, though if the SLPL ever happens, I guess Ravi could have fun spotting sponsored Abrams tanks and F16s rather than the accursed blimp.

But it isn’t just the stadiums that SLC are offloading. Many of the players are being handed over local businesses as the board can no longer afford to run them either. Kumar Sangakkara will be working for a Mrs De Silva of Market Street, Colombo, shouting out the prices at her fruit and vegetable stall; Mahela Jayawardene will be employed as a street sweeper by Galle District Council, tidying up the mess that others have left (similar to his current role) and Ajantha Mendis will be placed in storage at the Kandy Museum of Mystery, though may not be picked for every exhibition.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England