May 2, 2013

There's something about Shahid

A lot of people think Afridi is ideally suited to T20s, but think again. T20 makes Afridis of everyone but negates the qualities that are his very essence
30

The problem with the careers of Pakistan cricketers is that you never really know when they're over. Even life bans rarely prove terminal, so why pay any attention to a retirement? A player who has merely been dropped is barely even worth remarking upon.

Shahid Afridi has just been dropped for the second time in 18 months. He himself says that players "usually get dropped" and that "being in and out is a one-off thing". Nevertheless, at some point or other, he will be dropped for a final time, never to return - and cricket will be the poorer for it.

Pakistan fans will tot up his recent runs and wickets and perhaps reach a different conclusion, but I am not a Pakistan fan. I am a Pakistan enthusiast. I enjoy the very things that frustrate supporters yearning for a Pakistan win - the unpredictability, the irresponsibility, the total commitment to swinging off your feet even when the match situation positively demands that you bat defensively.

In many ways T20 cricket has ruined Afridi. A lot of people think he is ideally suited to that format, but I heartily disagree. T20 makes Afridis of everyone but negates the qualities that are his very essence.

If you believe that Afridi is defined by the sixes he hits, I can only tell you that you are wrong. Afridi is actually defined by the sixes he tries to hit - the end result simply doesn't come into it. Instead, it is all about his mindset; that complete inability to play appropriately for the situation.

Because of this, Afridi was always at his best in Test cricket. He shone like a madly flashing lighthouse positioned to serve no discernible purpose. In T20 cricket, everyone tries to slog sixes because that is what they are supposed to do. The format has been engineered with cow corner in mind. In this world, Afridi is just one of many; he is just a number. (Ignore his bowling. As far as most of us are concerned, his bowling has only ever been a convenient means of justifying his occasional appearances at the crease.)

If you have been brought up with T20 cricket, you will never "get" Afridi. The format has legitimised his approach to batting and that is not what the man is about. He is about total commitment to his unproductive method, no matter all the evidence that says he should adopt a slightly different approach. There is purity in that.

Cricket is data-driven these days. This is an age of analysis. You don't need a laptop to deduce that Afridi would score more runs if he didn't try and maximise his return on every single delivery he faces, but there is something to be said for so consistently flying in the face of reason. As a spectator, I live for those rare days when madness conquers method. We need somebody to fly that flag.

A successful Afridi assault conquers not just the bowling but also an entire philosophy. It says: "Your probabilities and percentages have no place here. This is a land where we do stupid things again and again and every now and again, for no particular reason, they happen to come off. What are you going to do about it?"

I do not want to see Afridi when the required run rate is 12 an over. That entirely misses the point. I want to see him when he needs to bat out time on the final day of a Test match on a turning pitch, because that is when he is at his best.

Sadly, he has retired from the longest format and is also not part of the current one-day team. Is there any hope?

"I have ample cricket left in me," he says.

Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on May 2, 2013, 4:43 GMT

    He has perplexed a generation of cricket lovers....he surprises you whether you underrate him, or over rate him..... be in 90's, 2000's or this year against South Africa in South Africa. It is character like him, that T20 was invented....and after all he won a world cup for his team :)

  • ARFB on May 5, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    The guy has not been serious to the cricket lately.He is running too many side businesses.A fashion brand & a chain of restaurants.Now actually cricket has become his side business,& a way to keep his fan base(Afridi sheeps) & the TV commercials.I have always hated him & considered him a curse to Pak's batting line up.Now every bataman in their line up wants to earn fame, & a bunch of fansheeps who would blindly follow him, by trying to be like him.Eversince he came in Pak team,their batting performance kept sliding down & a perfect allround team with a brilliant batting line up,which produced many batting legends is now a one department team only team, which is bowling.

  • on May 5, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    Great Article, this is what Afridi is..

  • on May 4, 2013, 11:29 GMT

    he was good crowed puller but cricket is not about names its about performance. he last 2 years are worse and getting bad day by day. nothing in bowling and nothing in batting. 1 off inings is good for some die hard fans but that may not be enough.

    He should concentrate on domestic circuit to get his form back. and play more domestic events. he hasnt played recent t20. and hasnt played 1st class. those are the basics where you can get your form back.

    hope to see him back sometime.

  • Equanimous on May 4, 2013, 4:44 GMT

    visualization is important in sport. Sprinter visualizes how he is going to run the race. Martial artist visualizes how he is going to break the bricks. Sometimes even practices shadow movements. It primes the mind to expect what is to come and improves performance. Most batsmen visualize different shots they are going to play with different types of balls. they really try to feel it in their minds. Makes it easier for them to react to the ball. The thing that every one seems to miss about afridi is that he only visualizes one thing. I don't need to say what that is. The "single track" leads to his downfall. I do not think that will change with what condition the game is in. He does not need a coach unless the coach is a psychiatrist.

  • Zsam on May 3, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    Afridi is a joy to watch on his day, however his influence on the Pakistani batsmen since his stardom initially, has been profound. looking at every Pakistani batsmen, one cay safely say, there is an Afridi lurking somewhere in each one of them. So pervasive has his legacy been that grafters are hard to get, and Pakistan has struggled to put 6 Test batters since the pre-Afridi generation of batsmen retired. it wouldn't be a bad thing to de-Afridize this aspect of cricket for Pakistan to get some semblance of genuine Test batting back.

  • on May 3, 2013, 15:25 GMT

    When Misbah was dropped after Australian tour, he said his career is probably over, and he will never make it back. He was then appointed the new captain!!! Now Afridi says he is not over, so probably he will never see another ODI, even after his successful ODI tour of SA where he scored second highest after Misbah.

  • on May 3, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    good analysis i thnk so he can play for atleast 2 years till 2015 WC nd thats he also wants. he has to do somethng with his bowling to improve as he is now a days consider more of abowler. i also agree with u that he should have played more test crkt as he has a better avg than many batsmen in pak team about 45.

  • immy3981 on May 3, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    In agreement as in test there is no point to hurry up stuff and he can choose loose deliveriies to despatch it. test can polish him further and this is such a fact which he himself and PCB should notice it earlier. why is there a waste of talent in pakistan. please read this blog and do something to save a match winner for pakistan. He has all shots in book and the most important is the fear which he let the bowler to have before bowling to him. Bowler is always scared what afridi is going to do with him and can win psychological battle. wake up PCB

  • on May 3, 2013, 8:13 GMT

    agree with you all. Good article highlighting what Afridi missed & could have achieved in his career.

  • on May 2, 2013, 4:43 GMT

    He has perplexed a generation of cricket lovers....he surprises you whether you underrate him, or over rate him..... be in 90's, 2000's or this year against South Africa in South Africa. It is character like him, that T20 was invented....and after all he won a world cup for his team :)

  • ARFB on May 5, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    The guy has not been serious to the cricket lately.He is running too many side businesses.A fashion brand & a chain of restaurants.Now actually cricket has become his side business,& a way to keep his fan base(Afridi sheeps) & the TV commercials.I have always hated him & considered him a curse to Pak's batting line up.Now every bataman in their line up wants to earn fame, & a bunch of fansheeps who would blindly follow him, by trying to be like him.Eversince he came in Pak team,their batting performance kept sliding down & a perfect allround team with a brilliant batting line up,which produced many batting legends is now a one department team only team, which is bowling.

  • on May 5, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    Great Article, this is what Afridi is..

  • on May 4, 2013, 11:29 GMT

    he was good crowed puller but cricket is not about names its about performance. he last 2 years are worse and getting bad day by day. nothing in bowling and nothing in batting. 1 off inings is good for some die hard fans but that may not be enough.

    He should concentrate on domestic circuit to get his form back. and play more domestic events. he hasnt played recent t20. and hasnt played 1st class. those are the basics where you can get your form back.

    hope to see him back sometime.

  • Equanimous on May 4, 2013, 4:44 GMT

    visualization is important in sport. Sprinter visualizes how he is going to run the race. Martial artist visualizes how he is going to break the bricks. Sometimes even practices shadow movements. It primes the mind to expect what is to come and improves performance. Most batsmen visualize different shots they are going to play with different types of balls. they really try to feel it in their minds. Makes it easier for them to react to the ball. The thing that every one seems to miss about afridi is that he only visualizes one thing. I don't need to say what that is. The "single track" leads to his downfall. I do not think that will change with what condition the game is in. He does not need a coach unless the coach is a psychiatrist.

  • Zsam on May 3, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    Afridi is a joy to watch on his day, however his influence on the Pakistani batsmen since his stardom initially, has been profound. looking at every Pakistani batsmen, one cay safely say, there is an Afridi lurking somewhere in each one of them. So pervasive has his legacy been that grafters are hard to get, and Pakistan has struggled to put 6 Test batters since the pre-Afridi generation of batsmen retired. it wouldn't be a bad thing to de-Afridize this aspect of cricket for Pakistan to get some semblance of genuine Test batting back.

  • on May 3, 2013, 15:25 GMT

    When Misbah was dropped after Australian tour, he said his career is probably over, and he will never make it back. He was then appointed the new captain!!! Now Afridi says he is not over, so probably he will never see another ODI, even after his successful ODI tour of SA where he scored second highest after Misbah.

  • on May 3, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    good analysis i thnk so he can play for atleast 2 years till 2015 WC nd thats he also wants. he has to do somethng with his bowling to improve as he is now a days consider more of abowler. i also agree with u that he should have played more test crkt as he has a better avg than many batsmen in pak team about 45.

  • immy3981 on May 3, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    In agreement as in test there is no point to hurry up stuff and he can choose loose deliveriies to despatch it. test can polish him further and this is such a fact which he himself and PCB should notice it earlier. why is there a waste of talent in pakistan. please read this blog and do something to save a match winner for pakistan. He has all shots in book and the most important is the fear which he let the bowler to have before bowling to him. Bowler is always scared what afridi is going to do with him and can win psychological battle. wake up PCB

  • on May 3, 2013, 8:13 GMT

    agree with you all. Good article highlighting what Afridi missed & could have achieved in his career.

  • honestpakistani on May 3, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    Agree....Afridi only always looking to hit big sixes without realising the situation of the match.... doing so he entertain a us lot but at the same he harts us too many time too whe we depends on him to contribute as time...i believe droping him is just a wake up call for him...he should bring some seriousness to his cricket...nowadays most of us considering him as an entertainer rather than a cricketer...but TEAM PAKISTAN need a cricketer first than comes entertainer...MR. A F R I D I.... please be serious we LOVE YOU A LOT...we don't want to LOSE you very soon.

  • on May 3, 2013, 0:12 GMT

    Great article. People have failed to overlook many things. For example of 320 innings, he has scored more than 25 about a 100 times. Almost all those innings have been at a strike rate of a run a ball, or many times with Strike rates reaching close to 200!.

    What this means is that in one in every 3 innings he bats, he scores more than 25, at better than run a ball. Considering he comes in many times late, this is not only amazing, its also consistent.

    The problem is that too many times, the top order fails requiring him to repair the innings. Many times its just beyond repair, and he comes off as irresponsible.

    AS the article states, he could have easily been a "normal" player, playing his eye in, taking his time, batting at 4. And hed probably have broken all records, probably be the greatest ODI allrounder ever. That first 100 he scored in 37 balls, was a blessing and curse in disguise. It made people expect it all the time. He then had to be "AFRIDI."What cud he hav become?

  • on May 2, 2013, 23:19 GMT

    I totally disagree with above statements. Simple is Shahid afridi is one and only Who can Do anything in any situation. Dont under-estimate his perfomances please Ups/Downs are part of life. Do you Remember where was pakistani Squad in 50/50 overs world cup. That time afridi nominated as Captain. And he lead the team from front.

    Biggest example is Right in this year 1 month ago. He played 2 innings successive. Both the time Bowl hitted out of the Park.

    But --- Now a days Trend is to Dgrade the Hero,s on his poor performance.

    Stop It for Godsake

  • bouncer709 on May 2, 2013, 20:39 GMT

    You are right he should have played test, his test record is impressive, he should have realized that he can panic bowler more in tests, the bowlers against him would have to think much about setting fielding for him and how to stop runs. But I think Allah saved him from big controversy of spot fixing in England and he left tests in right time, otherwise he could have been in trouble due to Salman butt, Aamir and Aasif there. So it was genius decision to leave test cricket. Afridi ! go on , the selection committee wil be sent to thome. both the captains who are against you will be thrown off the ODI and T20 teams soon, and people will see u still shining in Pak team

  • Desihungama on May 2, 2013, 19:50 GMT

    Sure he's been bowled some 350 odd times but then he has hit more sixes than 350 so ought to put the right image on top?

  • Y2SJ on May 2, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    Afridi playing 5 days? Give me a break...ask him to bat for 5 overs first.

  • getsetgopk on May 2, 2013, 19:07 GMT

    There are many things one can wish Afridi could have had, but we wish a lot of things dont we, doesn't mean they would ever come true. Afridi was never going to be a mellow cool and calm guy, he's a brash pathan with some ego and temper, shove a mic at his face and the media guys will be having a field day but one thing is for sure. The man is honest to the teeth and I mean he literally used his teeth once in service of Pakistan (pun intended). The important thing is the career of a limited overs cricketer is always going be defined by the silverware. He's won the most MOM awards for Pakistan, has a WT20 in his bag and more fans around the world than he has in Pak. If greatness is defined by the MOM's and the trophies and fanbase then I suppose Afridi would fit in any day. If Misbah can play two formats at the age of 39 then Afridi shouldn't have much problem playing the 2015 WC but for that, the same old thing, focus on your game and make yourself valuable once more!

  • on May 2, 2013, 18:03 GMT

    Any one remember that Afridi was responsible for the World Cup t20 win in England? Saying that T20 is not his format does not make sense to me. I would have him in the team any day.

  • Pkricket on May 2, 2013, 17:32 GMT

    I think he does not do justice to his talent but we all know his mind does not work around the laws of the universe when it comes to his batting. Fear is not in his batting dictionary and fire lights up too often to either burn him or boost him. Do we have a replacement for him, NO! Then put him in...would ya!

  • on May 2, 2013, 17:11 GMT

    Reading through, I guess there are two different Afridis. The one Iv been watching and the one hes been watching. Afridi best at Test cricket. Good one mate.

  • MFNadeem on May 2, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    It is a harsh piece of writing, considering the fact that he is among top three best bowlers in T20 Internationals. His economy is among the best. For me, he is an automatic selection in any T20 team, considering he can add something with bat as well. In any case, he is crowd puller. People like the author will live their whole life writing articles, but people like Afridi will always be remembered for introducing a new genre of cricket.

  • on May 2, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    If you have ten world class quality players in your team you can include Afridi as the eleventh players to make up the team - pure gamble that once in awhile he will come off. Unfortunately TEAM PAKISTAN do not have ten world class quality players, in fact they have none except possibly Ajmal. Therefore, Afridi should no longer be part of TEAM PAKISTAN. He has had his days and has served Pakistan well and entertained the fans but now it is time for us to say farewell to him.

  • on May 2, 2013, 13:27 GMT

    I want him to play till 2015 world up. He is a utility player-- a hard hitting batsman, good bowler, brilliant fielder and a spirited motivated. There is a lot of dead wood in Pakistani team with Misbah is on top of that list. You can't miss on Afridi like match winner. Let him play till 2015 and then he can retire honourably. But not now

  • on May 2, 2013, 11:53 GMT

    Very Nice Artical How beautifully you have explained in this article what is boom boom about. We love afridi but things are not working for him now days. Everyone wanna see him in green shirt but he should do something for his bowling and batting. Best of luck for him.

  • Ricksr on May 2, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    Some time it is important to get a second opinion (other than yourself) about what you are good at. Afridi is a perfect example of that. Instead of settling for a defind role as a batsman in the team he offered himself open to any position, from opener to No:8 and was tossed around at every possible position. That is not the way to play good cricket. In my opinion he should have settelled for No:4 or 5 position. Coming at No:7 or 8 is waste of time for him.

  • wasim_007 on May 2, 2013, 10:28 GMT

    Great and accurate....We need afridi as an Opener...as well as he should be back playing 4 days match in domestic and might retrunt to 5 days...cricket..I don't what was wrong with 5 days..his performance was great in 5 days match and he could get two innings to play...Beleive that Afridi will come stronger...mentally and physically....

  • Stark62 on May 2, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    Actually, he doesn't have a bad Test record and that is primarily due to his style of play and the reputation he has built.

    For instance, we all know he loves to hit the ball a mile and the fielding unit will send their fielders to the boundary, as soon as he approaches the crease.

    This allowed him to nudge and nerdle the ball around in Test cricket because of the gaps created by the field placements and after his retirement from Test cricket, his batting also went downhill and ultimately, may have led to his demise in Intl. cricket.

    His Test average is 36.51 with 8-50's and 5-100's, plus 1716 runs in 27 matches with a strike rate of 86.97, not bad.

  • gujratwalla on May 2, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    Playing Afridi is a gamble!Has always been.The SIX personifies him.He likes to win and win big but he knows he can also lose big and badly.I don't think any other team than Pakistan will have taken the gamble!Had he been an Englishman,Australian or South African he would been long discarded for being irresponsible although he is very talented!

  • AZIZKHAN1990 on May 2, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    u love or u hate him bt u cant ignore him..........to hv a strike rate over 110 n picking a wicket n hitting a six on an average in every match he is a force to reckon with.....

  • on May 2, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    Pleasure .. totally concur. Am from India, often the arch-enemy of Afridi's team and at receiving end of his madness. Yet, I yearn for more people to approach Afridi's presence like you have. Thanks!

  • on May 2, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    Pleasure .. totally concur. Am from India, often the arch-enemy of Afridi's team and at receiving end of his madness. Yet, I yearn for more people to approach Afridi's presence like you have. Thanks!

  • AZIZKHAN1990 on May 2, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    u love or u hate him bt u cant ignore him..........to hv a strike rate over 110 n picking a wicket n hitting a six on an average in every match he is a force to reckon with.....

  • gujratwalla on May 2, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    Playing Afridi is a gamble!Has always been.The SIX personifies him.He likes to win and win big but he knows he can also lose big and badly.I don't think any other team than Pakistan will have taken the gamble!Had he been an Englishman,Australian or South African he would been long discarded for being irresponsible although he is very talented!

  • Stark62 on May 2, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    Actually, he doesn't have a bad Test record and that is primarily due to his style of play and the reputation he has built.

    For instance, we all know he loves to hit the ball a mile and the fielding unit will send their fielders to the boundary, as soon as he approaches the crease.

    This allowed him to nudge and nerdle the ball around in Test cricket because of the gaps created by the field placements and after his retirement from Test cricket, his batting also went downhill and ultimately, may have led to his demise in Intl. cricket.

    His Test average is 36.51 with 8-50's and 5-100's, plus 1716 runs in 27 matches with a strike rate of 86.97, not bad.

  • wasim_007 on May 2, 2013, 10:28 GMT

    Great and accurate....We need afridi as an Opener...as well as he should be back playing 4 days match in domestic and might retrunt to 5 days...cricket..I don't what was wrong with 5 days..his performance was great in 5 days match and he could get two innings to play...Beleive that Afridi will come stronger...mentally and physically....

  • Ricksr on May 2, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    Some time it is important to get a second opinion (other than yourself) about what you are good at. Afridi is a perfect example of that. Instead of settling for a defind role as a batsman in the team he offered himself open to any position, from opener to No:8 and was tossed around at every possible position. That is not the way to play good cricket. In my opinion he should have settelled for No:4 or 5 position. Coming at No:7 or 8 is waste of time for him.

  • on May 2, 2013, 11:53 GMT

    Very Nice Artical How beautifully you have explained in this article what is boom boom about. We love afridi but things are not working for him now days. Everyone wanna see him in green shirt but he should do something for his bowling and batting. Best of luck for him.

  • on May 2, 2013, 13:27 GMT

    I want him to play till 2015 world up. He is a utility player-- a hard hitting batsman, good bowler, brilliant fielder and a spirited motivated. There is a lot of dead wood in Pakistani team with Misbah is on top of that list. You can't miss on Afridi like match winner. Let him play till 2015 and then he can retire honourably. But not now

  • on May 2, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    If you have ten world class quality players in your team you can include Afridi as the eleventh players to make up the team - pure gamble that once in awhile he will come off. Unfortunately TEAM PAKISTAN do not have ten world class quality players, in fact they have none except possibly Ajmal. Therefore, Afridi should no longer be part of TEAM PAKISTAN. He has had his days and has served Pakistan well and entertained the fans but now it is time for us to say farewell to him.

  • MFNadeem on May 2, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    It is a harsh piece of writing, considering the fact that he is among top three best bowlers in T20 Internationals. His economy is among the best. For me, he is an automatic selection in any T20 team, considering he can add something with bat as well. In any case, he is crowd puller. People like the author will live their whole life writing articles, but people like Afridi will always be remembered for introducing a new genre of cricket.