March 5, 2014

The contagious madness of Shahid Afridi

He frustrates his fans more often than not, but he is also an addiction, one that pulls at the heartstrings
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Shahid Afridi: nostalgia, hope, naiveté © Associated Press

You could almost feel the anger in Wasim Akram's voice. Shahid Afridi had attempted a trademark hoick with his team precariously placed at 117 for 5 against Afghanistan. The stumps had rattled and Wasim started to rail against Afridi, his refusal to learn, the fact that over 17 years of cricket Afridi had declined to listen to what had been told to him repeatedly, often by Wasim himself. You nodded along, as you often do when Wasim is commentating in a language in which he can articulate himself better than in English.

Yet three days later, all was forgiven. By Wasim, by Afridi's fans, and by his detractors. Just an average week in the life of Shahid Afridi.

There is a politically incorrect saying in Urdu that being a Pathan is not an ethnicity but a state of being that can affect anyone at any time. It comes from the slightly racist view that plain dwellers have of people from the mountains. That they are rugged and dim, and kill before they think. It's the sort of stereotype that myths of centaurs and berserkers were made of in ancient times. They are men's men, in every sense of the word, as another stereotype has it. Thus, whenever a Pakistani fan has to justify an Afridi brain-freeze, he looks for that stereotype - that Afridi is a Pathan, what else would you expect from him?

Afridi had the luxury his successors have never had; he walked into a winning team. A team that could carry his brain fades and allow him to be himself; by the time that generation passed, the Pakistani fan was so used to the "mercurial" Afridi that there was never a movement to try to correct his game. In fact, they loved him for being so out of the norm. The shot Umar Akmal played against India is one that Afridi has played dozens of times before - the ridiculously ill-timed and idiotic slog that flirts with the stars before coming down into a fielder's hands (think of the World Twenty20 final in 2007, probably the greatest of Afridi's senseless skiers). But while Akmal will be castigated, and whatever he will receive will still be less than he deserves, there was far less criticism of Afridi then, as there always is. In 2007, we blamed Misbah for not finishing it off. There was no point in blaming Afridi; it was just Shahid being Shahid, that's what we told ourselves. That's what we always tell ourselves, just Shahid being a Pathan, and we move on.

That is not to say that Afridi is given special treatment wrongly. Afridi, after all, is the living embodiment of the Pakistani dream. This is a country that believes in messiahs, whether in politics, sport, or elsewhere. The idea that one man can come in, change everything and take us to the mountaintop; it is this idea that explains why democracy has never been as beloved of the Pakistani populace as it is elsewhere; it is for this reason that the last military coup was celebrated in the city of the deposed leader; and it is for this reason that Afridi will play as long as he wants to play. Afridi is the personification of hope, of the light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, the light might be of an oncoming train, but it is still hope, however false it may be. And every now and then at the end of the tunnel we do actually emerge into the light. And all of us feel like Andy Dufresne - the river of excrement, the years in prison, none of that matters the moment the rain washes away everything. That is how we define our teams and our sportsmen, not with numbers and figures but with moments.

It is en vogue to try to reduce sport to numbers, and I am fond of doing so as much as the next bloke, even if the next bloke is Andy Flower. My belief is that sport, as Jonathan Wilson put it, can be beautiful in its struggle. "It may be entertaining, but it is not and should never be an entertainment."

Sport exists on a higher plane than mere entertainment. So I could be defined as an ideologue against the cult of Afridi. The idea that sustained success is a greater goal than occasional moments; that consistent excellence is an aim worth striving for. Yet even as I fell out of love with Shoaib Akhtar for not dissimilar reasons, I have never been able to completely disregard Afridi, though having made the jump from being fan to journalist means that I can know more about him than I ever need to. Afridi asks questions of his detractors that they struggle to answer. He asks questions of his opponents that they can't even comprehend.

How do you prepare against a man who doesn't know what he's doing half the time? In the last two years Afridi played an average of 13 balls per innings, yet against India on Sunday he decided to not play a single bad shot till his 18th ball. Everything was played with the spin; he didn't try to aimlessly slog a pacer even once. Afridi decided, randomly, to play a good innings. You can't prepare against randomness. Every responsible Afridi innings is unexpected.

And then that 18th ball was trademark Afridi. Pakistan needed 3 off 3, so the obvious thing to do was to try to smash it as hard as possible and hope that it landed beyond the boundary fielder. There was a moment as he struck it that you thought he'd messed it up; but he hadn't, and then all you could do was bang on tables and throw water on yourself. That is what he reduces even his detractors to. He believes in madness, and that madness is contagious.

When we are ten years old, we think when we end up playing for the national team we'll be the player Afridi is right now: in your face, uber-aggressive, and confident in the cliché that who dares wins. Then we grow up, get nine-to-fives, raise families, and become conservative. The average Pakistani ends up being like Mohammad Hafeez - confident on the outside, questionable on the inside, jack of all trades master of none, doing enough to get by, occasionally getting the love, never the adulation. Afridi is a window into our ten-year-old selves. He does not operate on a mental level, he only toys with your heartstrings. That's why even as you rail against his presence - and I have done that more than most - every time he comes out to bat you are engulfed by the unknown unknowns, as Donald Rumsfeld put it.

Numbers give you solace, they give you a belief that if X happens Y number of times then Z will be the answer. The law of averages gives you comfort; Afridi doesn't. Supporting Afridi is like doing heroin; it will kill you in the end, one body part at a time, yet you will remain addicted to it, because nothing beats its high.

Afridi is the messiah, he is nostalgia, he is hope, he's naiveté. You can't prepare against that. You can't compete against that.

Hassan Cheema is a sports journalist, writer and commentator, and co-hosts the online cricket show Pace is Pace Yaar. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Zaidi-1O on March 5, 2014, 21:51 GMT

    Cricket is a sport and each player is a value addition to the game. The point that I want to make is that whether you agree with it or not, Afridi has won more hearts than anyone else. He is the only person in the world that can "lalafy" the crowd and burst them into tears like against Bangladesh. He is the only person in the world who can surprise a legend like "Roger Federer" and force him to tweet about the magic he can deliver. Winning or Losing is a very mediocre standard. People are simply ignorant when they use such standards while assessing players like Tendulkar and Afridi. Afridi played all his life for his fans, totally unselfish. Cricket will turn into oblivion if people stop watching it. This makes 'Afridi' a great contributor to this game. His sheer aggression, his walk to the crease, and those quintessential sixes will always be remembered in history of the game.Yes, Afridi is nostalgic, I agree. But, this is the only stuff we will remember to tell to our grandchildren.

  • bouncer709 on March 5, 2014, 15:19 GMT

    Excellent Article, but I don't agree that the last (18th ball) six was wrong thing to do at that time. If you guys ever noticed Afridi when hitting sixes and immediately he change his gear back and try to block any ball he gets out. After scoring 37 ball century he just hold a shot back and got out, scoring 45 ball century against India and then tried to block a ball and he was bowled. After hitting Ashwin for a six over extra cover, Afridi knew Ashwin will target leg side and he was ready for it. and when bowler is under pressure it is not wise thing to block a ball in last over, and take the game to last ball.... and I believe had there been 4 sixes remaining in last over, Afridi would have done it on that day. This is what our heart says about him.

  • Nirvana-light on March 5, 2014, 14:27 GMT

    Respect and love.This is the most beautiful article I have ever read describing a sports personality and madness around him.King Afridi is not the hero of numbers but rather hero of the hearts of million people around the world. Pakistan and Pcb going through so much politics, that so many people have really lost their faith in the system, but still hope of some kind of divine intervention, and whenen ever Afridi walks in, this hope is strengthen. Only the believers understand what I am talking about.Please Pcb and former hopless cricketers show some real respect and love to this man, which he truly deservs more than ever. Love and respect .

  • on March 11, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    nice article. Afridi came 2 form at the right time. just before d t20 world cup. Hope 2 see some boom boom cricket from him.

  • on March 11, 2014, 8:24 GMT

    You wouldn't have written this article if he didn't have a successful run in this Asia cup, would you?

  • on March 10, 2014, 19:45 GMT

    Beautifully written blog. Being an Indian too, I also do love Afridi & his madness. :)

  • AsifAkaSh3 on March 10, 2014, 17:14 GMT

    Afridi is the messiah, he is nostalgia, he is hope, he's naiveté. You can't prepare against that. You can't compete against that.

    What should else one can say,,,, a great artical indeed. Wanna follow u on twitter.

  • on March 8, 2014, 22:25 GMT

    Kudos ! You coudnt have said it better,probably my all time favorite article in cricinfo :)

  • on March 8, 2014, 6:05 GMT

    So far I have seen him & what I got a feeling that * He knows what he believes * He does what he understands or guess to do * He requires no one as coach * He is always a free bird who doesn't want to take pressure * He will hit you whenever you will feel relaxed about his records, recent performances * He is the best person I have ever seen in Cricket who can make any game 1 sided & even so so easy * When he gives 100% concentration & sense he does better than his career average * Statistics, Facts, Technique, Research, Target, Team Plan, Game Plan, Laptop, Video Footage, Advise of Guru's, Admirable commentators, Cricinfo efforts of live commentary, Indian TV Ads, Fourth or Fifth Umpire Programs, Post or Pre Match Advisers, Coach or Captain Guidelines nothing matter to him if he believes in him & thrive for win for PAK * He is powerful & very strong to read the opposition mind. Even the best all rounder in world gave leg side wide when he hit for 3 sixes in an over (Shakib)

  • gtd068a on March 7, 2014, 21:24 GMT

    I don't know what I like more: this article or the last two innings by Afridi. Beautifully written. Bravo!!

  • Zaidi-1O on March 5, 2014, 21:51 GMT

    Cricket is a sport and each player is a value addition to the game. The point that I want to make is that whether you agree with it or not, Afridi has won more hearts than anyone else. He is the only person in the world that can "lalafy" the crowd and burst them into tears like against Bangladesh. He is the only person in the world who can surprise a legend like "Roger Federer" and force him to tweet about the magic he can deliver. Winning or Losing is a very mediocre standard. People are simply ignorant when they use such standards while assessing players like Tendulkar and Afridi. Afridi played all his life for his fans, totally unselfish. Cricket will turn into oblivion if people stop watching it. This makes 'Afridi' a great contributor to this game. His sheer aggression, his walk to the crease, and those quintessential sixes will always be remembered in history of the game.Yes, Afridi is nostalgic, I agree. But, this is the only stuff we will remember to tell to our grandchildren.

  • bouncer709 on March 5, 2014, 15:19 GMT

    Excellent Article, but I don't agree that the last (18th ball) six was wrong thing to do at that time. If you guys ever noticed Afridi when hitting sixes and immediately he change his gear back and try to block any ball he gets out. After scoring 37 ball century he just hold a shot back and got out, scoring 45 ball century against India and then tried to block a ball and he was bowled. After hitting Ashwin for a six over extra cover, Afridi knew Ashwin will target leg side and he was ready for it. and when bowler is under pressure it is not wise thing to block a ball in last over, and take the game to last ball.... and I believe had there been 4 sixes remaining in last over, Afridi would have done it on that day. This is what our heart says about him.

  • Nirvana-light on March 5, 2014, 14:27 GMT

    Respect and love.This is the most beautiful article I have ever read describing a sports personality and madness around him.King Afridi is not the hero of numbers but rather hero of the hearts of million people around the world. Pakistan and Pcb going through so much politics, that so many people have really lost their faith in the system, but still hope of some kind of divine intervention, and whenen ever Afridi walks in, this hope is strengthen. Only the believers understand what I am talking about.Please Pcb and former hopless cricketers show some real respect and love to this man, which he truly deservs more than ever. Love and respect .

  • on March 11, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    nice article. Afridi came 2 form at the right time. just before d t20 world cup. Hope 2 see some boom boom cricket from him.

  • on March 11, 2014, 8:24 GMT

    You wouldn't have written this article if he didn't have a successful run in this Asia cup, would you?

  • on March 10, 2014, 19:45 GMT

    Beautifully written blog. Being an Indian too, I also do love Afridi & his madness. :)

  • AsifAkaSh3 on March 10, 2014, 17:14 GMT

    Afridi is the messiah, he is nostalgia, he is hope, he's naiveté. You can't prepare against that. You can't compete against that.

    What should else one can say,,,, a great artical indeed. Wanna follow u on twitter.

  • on March 8, 2014, 22:25 GMT

    Kudos ! You coudnt have said it better,probably my all time favorite article in cricinfo :)

  • on March 8, 2014, 6:05 GMT

    So far I have seen him & what I got a feeling that * He knows what he believes * He does what he understands or guess to do * He requires no one as coach * He is always a free bird who doesn't want to take pressure * He will hit you whenever you will feel relaxed about his records, recent performances * He is the best person I have ever seen in Cricket who can make any game 1 sided & even so so easy * When he gives 100% concentration & sense he does better than his career average * Statistics, Facts, Technique, Research, Target, Team Plan, Game Plan, Laptop, Video Footage, Advise of Guru's, Admirable commentators, Cricinfo efforts of live commentary, Indian TV Ads, Fourth or Fifth Umpire Programs, Post or Pre Match Advisers, Coach or Captain Guidelines nothing matter to him if he believes in him & thrive for win for PAK * He is powerful & very strong to read the opposition mind. Even the best all rounder in world gave leg side wide when he hit for 3 sixes in an over (Shakib)

  • gtd068a on March 7, 2014, 21:24 GMT

    I don't know what I like more: this article or the last two innings by Afridi. Beautifully written. Bravo!!

  • AFanOfGoodCricket on March 7, 2014, 15:10 GMT

    Amazing article Hassan!!! Beautifully written, especially the "When we are ten years old" part!!! Classic!! Regards

  • on March 7, 2014, 11:26 GMT

    Great article sir. Good luck to the Pakistan team for tomorrow in sha Allah we will see another Shahid Afridi blitz tomorrow.

  • Tbilisi on March 7, 2014, 10:51 GMT

    Gun has no mercy whatever its on target or not. Afridi is the messiah, he is nostalgia, he is hope, he's naiveté. You can't prepare against that. You can't compete against that.

  • on March 7, 2014, 10:28 GMT

    One of the best articles that has been able to describe what Afridi is all about and the Pakistani sentiment with it.

  • on March 7, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    One of the most excellent articles on Afridi so beautifully you defined an Afridi fan if he doesn't always believe in LALA some where back in his mind he have if and but's that he can some how pull of a thriller that exactly what he did that night and that exactly i was thinking he can't to it but may be can and he did it.....

  • Haider on March 7, 2014, 9:36 GMT

    it should be noted 3 of 3 with zero wickets remaining and to attempt that shot. mind boggling.

    nice article.

  • aamerkhan on March 7, 2014, 7:40 GMT

    Nothing new in this article you are just stating the obvious. At least you are able to articulate your self so magnificently in English.

  • zaidvi on March 7, 2014, 7:36 GMT

    The article has confused me. I find it difficult to decide which one is more beautiful - Lala or the article?

  • justbecoz on March 7, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    " Supporting Afridi is like doing heroin; it will kill you in the end, one body part at a time, yet you will remain addicted to it, because nothing beats its high." beautifully explains the phenomena that lala is.

  • on March 7, 2014, 5:55 GMT

    This is an exceptionally well written article. Amazing

  • on March 7, 2014, 2:47 GMT

    The best article I've read afridi, well done

  • Engle on March 7, 2014, 1:22 GMT

    Love him or loathe him, there is one indelible fact - his place in cricket history is secure. Not just in the record books but also in the lips of those who were witness to his exploits and will pass them down for generations to come.

  • ziaLondon on March 6, 2014, 22:37 GMT

    Good reflection of your show off knowledge to retrieve various aspects of Shahid Afridi. Pathan history has not been picked up well and perhaps no understanding of pathan apart from pointing towards madness. Sitting in the dug and watching dramas are not bravery. This what true pathan is like. History will tell if it is explored that how pathan has played vital role for his country. There is a character in every cast and nation . Some character reflects a useless human wasting his life but some characters burst like afridi and make his country proud regardless of any cast. This what true patriotism is. Our nations history tells us that agression has made changes and not sitting in the corner.

  • dijkstra77 on March 6, 2014, 21:37 GMT

    Love this guy!!! I read that supporting him put some Kashmiri student into big trouble in India :)???

  • Longmemory on March 6, 2014, 21:08 GMT

    What a classic piece! Shabaash, Cheema Sahib - you do the whole subcontinent proud with your superb writing! Prose befitting a cricketer like none other. If the measure of a cricketer is what his opponents think of him, Afridi need have no worries at all. Every Indian fan knows that this fearless "paagal Pathan" can take the match away from you in a matter of seconds - and until he's out, no match is safe. As a recent song has it: "Its not the breaths that you take but the moments that take your breath away" that matter.

  • on March 6, 2014, 20:38 GMT

    Such superb writings appreciable ! Lala deserves it.

  • on March 6, 2014, 19:26 GMT

    very well written article... i really enjoyed reading it.... and you are so true in writing "Afridi, after all, is the living embodiment of the Pakistani dream. This is a country that believes in messiahs, whether in politics, sport, or elsewhere. The idea that one man can come in, change everything and take us to the mountaintop; it is this idea that explains why democracy has never been as beloved of the Pakistani populace as it is elsewhere;"

    you wrote in real good .. hats off to you.

  • on March 6, 2014, 18:42 GMT

    Watching a match without afridi is like watching a "Dark Knight" movie without joker there is no taste and no hope in these matches. Afridi is truly a big big legend of all time player like him will never be born again. He is heroin to which whole nation and millions of other people all around the world are addicted. Best ever article by Mr.Cheema.

  • on March 6, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    Afridi is afridi and he will be. players like afridi are born once. many good and even better hitters may come but still they can't take his place. the thing is that pakistan cricket team did not understand his role since the beginning. some time they send him as opener sometime no 3rd and 5th ,6 th , 7th. what is this??? he is a match turner.. and i loved the statements where you refer him as "the personification of hope and of the light at the end of a tunnel".... secondly you give the example of andy Dufresne, that he took 10 odd years to escape from the prison but when he was free... he was completely free than, of the thoughts, of the hard times in the prison....... he does not normally score, but when he does, he created history. thanks Hassan cheema sir. :)

  • on March 6, 2014, 15:53 GMT

    lala bhoom bhoom cheeta agression cricket don = shahid afraadi

  • on March 6, 2014, 14:38 GMT

    Wow...wht an article man....enjoyed every bit of it! :)

  • Zahidsaltin on March 6, 2014, 14:12 GMT

    Afridi isn't a problem to have in the team until his role in the team is understood by the captain which I think isn't. While chasing, Pakistan batting has a habit of letting the asking rate slip out of hands and then almost in every match, they expect Afridi to come and rescue them. They would start with an asking rate of 5 and end up with 9 in the last few overs. This trend contributes to a lot of defeats because Afridi can only do it once every 8 matches on average.

  • on March 6, 2014, 13:55 GMT

    I liked your article. IMO, Afridi is a liability. People can love him as they choose, but 9 out of 10 times i will be in here, having to make comments about how he cost Pakistan the game. Well done and good luck to both teams in the final.

  • on March 6, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    I am a sri lankan .bt i love the way afridi bat . pakistan has a great advantage of a hardhitting allrounder

  • Azhar.Tahir on March 6, 2014, 7:55 GMT

    Afridi is the player of his kind. Many great players has come and gone in this game, but no one has more fans than this man AFRIDI.. He electrifies the stadium when he walks down the ground... whenever he comes for batting, no matter how strong the opposition is, they always get under pressure....

  • on March 6, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    Did he just compare him to Peter Pan? If yes, then where's Captain Hook?

  • on March 6, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    Mr. Hasan wrote a good Article, but i didn't understand the psychology of most of the journalists! Why they used to write an analysis on person who acquired fame or the one at the peak of fame. He gave good analysis bcoz Afridi did that what others are not capable to do right now in the team. i never witness article on the performance of Afridi as a captain, where he managed the team well. I would to advice writer to bring some good analysis on PCB chairman alteration by so called Idiot's ruler who took the steps to support Big 3. Why writer and journalists don't like to enlighten the dark corners rather than bright which are well know by the people. Least and last, Criticism is good thing but would love to read an article on other Forged cricketers like Akram (the Gambler), Shoaib (The Alcoholist) MISBAH and Ahmed (Playing at political Power, Parchi System) etc

  • SRHaider on March 6, 2014, 6:58 GMT

    @Irishhawk..... instead of cribbing about Afridi, can you go and find where the hell ashwin has gone. He has gone missing and you need to go find him, bring him back. He still has 2 balls to bowl to Afridi :-p

  • gear4wrd on March 6, 2014, 6:19 GMT

    who can say that he is not a better player? he has achieved what thousands of players couldn't and can't,, lets be unconventional, lets dare to attain the impossible.

  • gear4wrd on March 6, 2014, 6:14 GMT

    you always require taking more risks to attain the impossible, you require going non traditional and unconventional to chase what others can't.

    yes you got to be sensible rather than sentimental, but dear writer that's just not for afridi but also for you,,, poor indians must be bleeding after that punch...

    its afridi and others of similar capacity who only can changed the complexion and course of game. a consistent misbah or anyone of similar capacity cannot just made 59 out of 25. for you to attain the impossible you got to be little sensible and little sentimental.

  • on March 6, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    If you take this afridi factor out of the One-day Cricket, there won't be enough charm left for the viewers to see a day long Cricket match till the very end. This afridi factor got its debut into International Cricket in mid 90s. The 1996 WC won by Sri Lanka was a typical example. Kaluwitharana and Jayasuriya had adopted Afridi's style. Then came the T20 format. This factor got even more popularity. Almost every country hunted for their afridis. While most teams didn't success or kept up the legacy, Shahid Afridi still has it to his credit. He is unique in this very regard.

    And let's not forget Afridi is a regular spinner too, where there is not a lot madness or randomness at play. Any analysis about his personality should not ignore this side of his career.

  • on March 6, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    Searched all my life for a method in his madness ....

  • on March 6, 2014, 5:14 GMT

    As a pathan.. i need to correct a fact here....Sorry, Pathan is not a state of mind.. thats the confusion others have......... ITS MORE A WAY OF LIFE.... Afridi lives that life...... Powerful..Bold Aggressive Super confident.. fearless......and that shows in his game.. ONE man has crushed 2 nations

  • on March 6, 2014, 4:52 GMT

    Brilliant article... addressing matters of the heart and mind as far as Afridi is concerned.:) He defies logic... because he is magic

  • on March 6, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    Well - as you said in your post, "Most of us End like Hafiz" but there are very few who "Live Like a King" like Afridi, So it is natural to "LOVE A KING" instead of those who always follow the "Rule of the Game". So I always love to prefer to only those who always say, "Mai Baghi Hoo - "I don't obey any rule which restrict my abilities". Well Done Afridi "LOVE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING".

  • on March 6, 2014, 4:17 GMT

    @irishhawks it is people like you who try to ruin peoples happiness and are full idiots seriously if you dont like him dont commwbt everyone single other young and old pakistani love him so get over it

  • cornered_again on March 6, 2014, 1:19 GMT

    @ Irish Hawks go and check how many Man of the Match Afridi has won. And apart from batting he is good enough leg spinner to be taken as purely a bowler(top wicket getter in the last world cup) and he is an excellent fielder too. He has made us win many matches over the two decades.... Afridi is a package..

  • on March 6, 2014, 0:57 GMT

    Wow! This is a sensational article.

  • on March 5, 2014, 23:50 GMT

    having afridi is like having dhoni or arjuna in the end . may be the last two are more sure bets , but afridi is close .

  • Desihungama on March 5, 2014, 23:32 GMT

    @irishhawh- If my memory serves correctly, Afridi has played only 1 World Cup and that is 2011. Look how far we went and that was after the spot fixing scandal. It was Pakistan's WC had we not drop Sachin 5 times. He won us 2009 T20 WC single handedly. You can't judge him by numbers but as writer says by moments and there are plenty of those.

  • on March 5, 2014, 21:49 GMT

    afridi is a legend !!!!! boom boom. yes pathan is a kefiat (a state of mind) lol. i agree and i am pathan myself!

  • Stieprox on March 5, 2014, 21:05 GMT

    @irishhawks is greatly depressed.its a sour grapes kind of thing.We love afridi.

  • haq33 on March 5, 2014, 20:43 GMT

    Somebody call Mercury, tell them to send more like him.

  • on March 5, 2014, 20:14 GMT

    What an article, Cheema. Keep it up.

  • thePakistanian on March 5, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    It's an amazing article ... Hafeez's description: I'm rolling in floor with laughter!

    Afridi is truly a special player; I hated him after his STUPID shot against Afg, but then 18 balls, 34 runs & last over 2 sixes later: HE's my SUPER-HERO! & ofcourse he's not gona perform for next 20 innings & everyone will hate him & when we reach tipping point... He's explode again! He's got the perfectly described nick name: BOOM BOOM!

  • on March 5, 2014, 19:45 GMT

    Top writing ....... yup, its difficult to be a Lala fan, but we were, we are and we will remain his supporter :)

  • on March 5, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    what an article a perfect epitome of Pakistanis Yes he give us Heart Attacks but when ever he comes on crease we stick to our tv sets because u Know it might be Afridis day and u dont want to miss it

  • muddassirqayyum on March 5, 2014, 18:13 GMT

    Cheema sahab very few people would have the courage and the insight to write a piece like yhis. Someone on one of the forums gave an excellent compliment tto Afridi. "Only he can play an innings like that". He will give you lots of heart brakes, but this one moment of magic is worth it. Well, at least some of them. lol

  • on March 5, 2014, 17:52 GMT

    wow, you sure are an amazing writer. You really did capture our feeling about afridi in you words. Hats off to u cheema sahab

  • on March 5, 2014, 17:48 GMT

    Love the article. Afridi gives people the hope that even if they are not complete masters of something, they can excel at with sheer passion and determination. Shahid Afridi is a phenomenon, rather than a person! ;)

  • on March 5, 2014, 17:30 GMT

    To be unique in itself is a great achievement. Nd Afridi by far is the most unique cricketer ever born.His madness brings him love.If madness can bring smiles on the faces of millions of people, then there is absolutely no harm in such madness. He looks best the way he is. He doesnt needs to change because we love him the way he is.

  • on March 5, 2014, 17:10 GMT

    Indeed a first article i have read with such a lucid language and what a personification used by the writer.Well done Cheema Sir!.....For simply one can say Afridi, true Pakistani.Love u

  • ejak on March 5, 2014, 16:12 GMT

    @ Metally Ill - every nation has the same theory as yourself. There is downside as well to keep things in perspective - let us not forget that

  • on March 5, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    It is 101% true. No matter what i can never dislike Afridi

  • on March 5, 2014, 16:03 GMT

    Don't always try to look out for Legends! you 'll end up to find a very few because imperfection and criticism 'll always be there. Haters 'll always be there against Champions

  • on March 5, 2014, 15:47 GMT

    cricket world will never produce cricketr like afridi again , so enjoy his last glimpses of glory as he is sure not to b there again...

  • SaraJahanSeAchha on March 5, 2014, 15:05 GMT

    It's good to see how Afridi's contribution has unified Pak fans and as the author rightly put it it's to do with the culture and his place being a Pathan. Personally irrespective of his victory and whom it was against, its his big hitting when he is already 34 years of age. He is not getting any younger.

  • on March 5, 2014, 14:36 GMT

    @irishhawks: Shahid Afridi's 32 Man-of-the-Match awards are the joint third-highest for any player in ODIs. Go figure.

  • on March 5, 2014, 14:29 GMT

    Brilliantly written! the 9 to 5 thing is so true! I too have been a fan of Afridi.I too can't sit still when he comes to bat. I too don't find a reason to watch a match when he is not in the team.I don't care what he does or how he gets out.I am just addicted to Afridi!

  • on March 5, 2014, 14:18 GMT

    As Pathan my father always told me we are the best nation in the world, proud of our culture, love our land, believe in our abilities. Never ever in my life I have found it wrong. I never have seen a Pathan speaking to other pathan in any other language then pushto. Never have seen a Pathan who looks at some giant and think that i can not take it down. The power of pathan takes everything by strom. I yet have to find a better nation then mine.

  • DayDevil on March 5, 2014, 13:39 GMT

    Excellent read, showcased the whole culture of Pakistan

  • sirish.aditya on March 5, 2014, 13:38 GMT

    That article had a lot of love in it. As Indian fans watching that match, sitting among a group of nail-biting fanatics, we convinced ourselves since Afridi was on strike, he'd do something idiotic and let us win. Infact, both times the ball flew that high, we knew it was giong to be caught. It had to be caught. I couldn't cross the boundary line, could it? No way. Please let it be caught at long on. But it was simply not meant to be.

    Afridi might not be an exemplary cricketer but he brings to the game that only few others can; that ability to touch the impossible, to dissolve boundaries, to confound physics and to turn us into desperate ten year-olds praying for the ball to be caught.

  • riverbaby11 on March 5, 2014, 13:28 GMT

    That was very well written and I will bet Afridi would have had the same career in any of the countries in the sub continent. We like to deny it and fight as we are seperate countries now but at a deeper level we value individual brilliance more than other cultures.

  • SaraJahanSeAchha on March 5, 2014, 13:22 GMT

    Afridi performs once in a blue moon and when he does he does it big. Interesting article.. At one time sehwag and afridi were compared and in commentary Rameez himself said Afridi is a cricketer without using his brain and play to his ability.

  • on March 5, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    What an article sir Jee...haha so true regarding 9 to 5 and master of none. TBH very few people in this world are like Afridi, careless couragious, aggressive and brave and yes all at a same time. Our Generation will be known by two things...The Song "Aadat" by Aatif Aslam and Shahid Afridi The Cricketer...thats it

  • on March 5, 2014, 12:41 GMT

    Dear Afridi you win our hearts be theway you are a good cricketer

  • on March 5, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    wow amazing article :D :D :D

  • on March 5, 2014, 12:32 GMT

    Best piece of writing i have ever read ...thumbs up for the author

  • on March 5, 2014, 12:22 GMT

    @ Posted by irishhawks on (March 5, 2014, 11:01 GMT): You don't have any idea about we, Pakistanis :) So better no to tell us what to do and what to not. Solve your own problem first :) Thanks. A brilliant article written :) Very well described :) Keep it on well done.

  • on March 5, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    @irishhawks, instead of praising performance, the smell of jealousy is coming out of you. Be gentleman and give credit to those who perform well.

  • irishhawks on March 5, 2014, 11:57 GMT

    Sorry Guys..I m not going to back down..Im an Indian but that doesn't mean i don't like Pakistani or other cricketers. As a matter of fact i really admire Waqar, Wasim and Akhtar for their exploits..They were controversial but great performers.They were not kept in the team just because of their charisma.but they were sheer raw match winners..Loved watching them in full flow..Just as i admire Peterson and Warner..If u say just because of his charisma he is playing in pak cricket team...then PCb needs some serious rethinking...You may admire him for his persona..but after all u also know where truth lies...U can hate me..its natural..But Reality Bites.

  • raghav355 on March 5, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    I am from India and am a fan of Shahid Afridi. Having said that, it is an indictment of the Pakistani team management that somebody with the sublime talent of Shahi d Afridi underachieved to the extent that he did. He is clearly in the twilight of his career now and we should savour all his performances! He is in fact a better test-batsman but unfortunately, he does not seem to be particularly fond of the longest and best version of the game. I doubt that he would continue after the 2015 World Cup though! We should savour his performances for as long as we can!

  • on March 5, 2014, 11:44 GMT

    Wow, what an incredible piece of writing. Truly moving and very apt to the situation Pakistani fans find themselves in. The madness of Afridi and the charisma is really something beyond statistics, numbers and logic. This is what we, as a nation always look for, the magic that transcends the common.

    "The common cannot be the heroic, nor the heroic common"

  • on March 5, 2014, 11:39 GMT

    @irishhawks: your thoughts are limited... guys like you dont know what is cricket... and commenting we have yuvi etc... we dont mind what you listen INDIA you can buy other nations with money but pakistan cant be..its your dream always that pakistanis cricket destroy but its just dream baby....... came out from illusions are face the reality. pakisatni is that nation if you try to roll them out they roll you out with their classic play......... LOve YOU PAKISTAN............. PAKISTAN ZINDABAD

  • cricket.kudos on March 5, 2014, 11:31 GMT

    @irishhawks thanks to the moderator my last comments were not published but seriously you have a habit of overlooking - T20 2009 - Afridi hello - Pakistan Vs India Kanpur 2nd Fastest Hundred - then - India losing test matches - Karachi 2006 - Bangalore 2006 - Afridi again - West Indies 2013 7/12 seriously -

  • LeoHashmi on March 5, 2014, 11:15 GMT

    Wonderful article, very well put, cricket is a game of passion, yes Afridi has disappointed all of us in numerous matches and numerous times we have lost also because of his "Do or Die attitude" but one thing is for sure that he is a perfect all rounder performing in either batting or balling if not then in fielding. He has become a mascot who;s presence alone put the other team in pressure. I agree with your article, he is unpredictable and a trunk card that can get most of the team out of the balance.

  • irishhawks on March 5, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    Some Pakistani Fans still defending overrated all rounder...Cm on Guys..He has been playing cricket for 17 years now and all you can tell me is couple of performances in T20 World Cup...Retired came back..retired cameback..Too many non performances and too little performances add to that chewing of cricket ball and spinning on wicket... Who was there comparing him to Yuvraj Singh?? In one day and t20 Yuvi has won many matches for India..fielded and bowled equally well..and yes 6 sixes...of broad in t20...Afridi cant better that!! Such seniors blocking paths of youngsters.Pakis need young blood not burdens and has beens....

  • Afique on March 5, 2014, 10:53 GMT

    How beautiful the article is!!!! From BD.... Yeah Afridi Plays with heartstring...

  • Suresh.Basappa on March 5, 2014, 10:53 GMT

    Afri didi is doing miracle. The oldie is doing magic.

  • Mudassir_Paracha on March 5, 2014, 10:52 GMT

    Brilliant write up, thoroughly enjoyed it..

  • Lahoria71 on March 5, 2014, 10:50 GMT

    From one CHEEMA to another; that was the best description of AFRIDI I have ever read. I almost broke my couch cause I kept hitting it even after we had won as I couldn't believe he would attempt another 6 after it was reduced to 3 from 3. But I'm glad he's a Pakistani as that is what we deserve; someone that delivers rarely but is worshiped like a god!! The bit about all Pakistanis being like Hafeez was pure gold!!!

  • on March 5, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    @irishhawks you are obviously not from Pakistan and don't understand people's love for afridi along woth that afridi has pur in a lot of match winning performances for Pakistan so how about you get your information right before posting a comment p.s I am from Pakistan and have been living in Australia for the last 10 years

  • on March 5, 2014, 10:43 GMT

    superb article - sums up Pakistan totally...........yes we love and loathe him in equal measure, yes he infuriates us with his rash shots that get him out but when he is on fire there is none like him - every bit of this article will be well known to all Pakistani fans as previously mentioned some excellent comments the "heroin line", the "hafeez analogy", the "messiah", the "light at the end of the tunnel"

    thoroughly enjoyable article

    keep up the good work

  • P3rfectionist on March 5, 2014, 10:40 GMT

    @irishhawks.... get a lyf dude ;) and jux remember WC T20 Afridi won for Pakistan... n i dont blame u for such kinda kiddish comments :) becox u mentioned ur class urself in da comment

  • ARJQ on March 5, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    @irishhawks: No offence dude but your sense of cricket is limited to numbers, stats and analysis but charisma is the word beyond your imagination. I am not a die hard Afridi fan but living in Pak I know what impact he can make on 180 million people in Pak with his single six that many century makers can't. Imran Khan, Sachin, Lara, Afridi, Jayasuria, Gilchrist, Ponting, Dhoni these are not just cricketers - these names force you to dream something far more than just world cups, champions Trophy & IPL. They are symbols of something beyond an ordinary mind. You won't understand, follow IPL that is easy to understand. Cheers!

  • on March 5, 2014, 10:36 GMT

    The article just "lalafied" the "lala symdrome"

  • UAETigers on March 5, 2014, 10:26 GMT

    Such a brilliant written article!! Cudos to the writer, you completely defines the Pakistani as a Nation and Afridi as a player!!! He is one of his kind and seriously the kind of flamboyance, energey and passion he brings into the game is amazing!! Players like Afridi are born once and normal people are always and after the genius!! History is full of the stories where geniues people are never accepted and loved by norm society and so called Civils as they defies their normality and cautious rules of life!! May be play like this till the time he decides to retire. I want to give a suggestion to PCB and other people that please arrange a farewell for Afridi in a way done by INDIA for Tendulkar!! Make sure he play his last ODI / T20 at National Staduim Karachi in front of his own people!!!

  • zarasochozarasamjho on March 5, 2014, 10:26 GMT

    No Mr Cheema, many including myself have not forgiven Afridi for the losses that he has given to Pakistan. If he was used as a batsman at number 6 or lower then he would have been a good bowling all-rounder (and that too only in limited-overs cricket). Facts and figures are more important than sentimentality after a couple of amzing wins - and let us face it it was not against a team like South Africa or Australia.

    Afridi reaches the heights which very few have - on a very small number of occasions. He reaches the lows which practically no one else does. Also, being a Pathan or not is irrelevant. Like they say you are either a good person or a bad person (with shades in between). The same applies to players.

  • on March 5, 2014, 10:07 GMT

    @irishhawks, its just a game and he is just a player who entertains. If you think India and Bangladeshies bowler are not good enough. Then go and see T20 world cup which Pakistan won ... He face south Africans on England soil and other better attacks than these two teams ... I rate the article as a good one ... but at the end its just an article you can think what you want but I remember most of the time poplular cricketers like Afridi, Yuvi ... e.t.c. I know

  • on March 5, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    @irishhawks. what are you talking about. we won the T20 world cup only because of afridi. go check both semi final & finals and secondly I disagree in that afridi's bowling is world class probably not the best but still very good.

  • on March 5, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    Whoah! It can't get better than this. . You can't describe Afridi better than this.

  • on March 5, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    Wonderful article. Very well put. "Supporting Afridi is like doing heroin; it will kill you in the end, one body part at a time, yet you will remain addicted to it, because nothing beats its high.", Yeah! I have been a die-hard Afridi fan through the years and it is exactly these sort of feelings that keeps fans like us going.

  • SamiSaayer on March 5, 2014, 9:16 GMT

    some pure gold in there... specially the paragraph leading to this "The average Pakistani ends up being like Mohammad Hafeez - confident on the outside, questionable on the inside, jack of all trades master of none, doing enough to get by, occasionally getting the love, never the adulation."

  • starsgap1986 on March 5, 2014, 9:04 GMT

    Beautifully crafted description of our feelings. True, one can't prepare a plan for chaos and unorthodox attack. But thank God that he is on our side. God bless.

  • AbuZoraiz on March 5, 2014, 9:03 GMT

    You nailed it Hassan! Brilliant.

    Don't think I have ever come across a better written piece on 'Afridi Phenomina'. Thanks for sharing the insight of our nation with the world.

  • on March 5, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    Love the way you explained Messiah. Absorbing stuff!

  • irishhawks on March 5, 2014, 8:55 GMT

    Excuse me Guys, Sorry but why everybody is so excited about here? Are you excited About so- called all rounder who has hit winning runs by hitting few bowlers who barely bowl above 130kmph for few sixes? Are you excited because after many years and few hundred one day internationals .Shahid Afridi has finally won couple of games for u? Has he won anything for you in World cups, Champions Trophy or in Test matches? Now he comes hits few sixes against weak and poor bowling and you guys are so excited about it...I feel sorry for Pakistanis...They are not used to seeing match winning performances from afridi...so its natural they are full of joy..Even an India A team batsmen can hit Indian Senior bowlers and Bangladeshi bowling out of park..

  • on March 5, 2014, 8:36 GMT

    I've never seen as good description as this.. Great.

  • on March 5, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    This article just mirrored my thoughts on Afridi...as a detractor most of the times. Although I would have never found the right words myself. Brilliant work. Actually the description of Hafeez is even more apt.

  • on March 5, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    good article. I think with afridi its like this enjoy whatever comes. he will disappoint you most of times, but when he will not, it will be amazing to watch. so live in the moment. What people need to learn is that when you do right , you will be praised. but when you dont, you will not be praised and will be criticized. thats how it goes with all the stars and even in normal people's life. VS BD was special as it was not just hitting. he picked it all well. and done good. taking singles in between.

  • on March 5, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    Brilliant Cheema sb! truly like Afridi.

  • on March 5, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    When we are ten years old, we think when we end up playing for the national team we'll be the player Afridi is right now: in your face, uber-aggressive, and confident in the cliché that whoever dares wins. Then we grow up, get nine-to-fives, raise families, and become conservative. The average Pakistani ends up being like Mohammad Hafeez - confident on the outside, questionable on the inside, the jack of all trades, the master of none, doing enough to get by, occasionally getting the love, never the adulation. Afridi is a window into our ten-year-old selves. He does not operate on a mental level, he only toys with your heartstrings. (loved it)

  • sa03r on March 5, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    Very well written, Cheema Sahib. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I agree that after every Afridi failure we conclude that he is not to be relied upon, but the next time he comes in to bat, we pin the same hopes on him again.

  • Cricket_Anonymous on March 5, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    After two days of reading and watching randomly, here is finally something to capture in words 'the Afridi effect/problem' and help me understand a bit what has been going on with my head since. Thanks, insightful piece.

  • mali313 on March 5, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    Great Article. The best piece is "Supporting Afridi is like doing heroin; it will kill you in the end, one body part at a time, yet you will remain addicted to it, because nothing beats its high."

  • on March 5, 2014, 7:47 GMT

    Last two Lines are superb. well written ariticle.

  • on March 5, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    what a beautifully written article.

  • Stieprox on March 5, 2014, 7:34 GMT

    nice article.afridi's madness has won pakistan lot of matches.

  • on March 5, 2014, 7:25 GMT

    Excellent writing. For me this line was the finest description of Afridi "Supporting Afridi is like doing heroin; it will kill you in the end, one body part at a time, yet you will remain addicted to it, because nothing beats its high. "

  • on March 5, 2014, 7:25 GMT

    Excellent writing. For me this line was the finest description of Afridi "Supporting Afridi is like doing heroin; it will kill you in the end, one body part at a time, yet you will remain addicted to it, because nothing beats its high. "

  • Stieprox on March 5, 2014, 7:34 GMT

    nice article.afridi's madness has won pakistan lot of matches.

  • on March 5, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    what a beautifully written article.

  • on March 5, 2014, 7:47 GMT

    Last two Lines are superb. well written ariticle.

  • mali313 on March 5, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    Great Article. The best piece is "Supporting Afridi is like doing heroin; it will kill you in the end, one body part at a time, yet you will remain addicted to it, because nothing beats its high."

  • Cricket_Anonymous on March 5, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    After two days of reading and watching randomly, here is finally something to capture in words 'the Afridi effect/problem' and help me understand a bit what has been going on with my head since. Thanks, insightful piece.

  • sa03r on March 5, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    Very well written, Cheema Sahib. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I agree that after every Afridi failure we conclude that he is not to be relied upon, but the next time he comes in to bat, we pin the same hopes on him again.

  • on March 5, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    When we are ten years old, we think when we end up playing for the national team we'll be the player Afridi is right now: in your face, uber-aggressive, and confident in the cliché that whoever dares wins. Then we grow up, get nine-to-fives, raise families, and become conservative. The average Pakistani ends up being like Mohammad Hafeez - confident on the outside, questionable on the inside, the jack of all trades, the master of none, doing enough to get by, occasionally getting the love, never the adulation. Afridi is a window into our ten-year-old selves. He does not operate on a mental level, he only toys with your heartstrings. (loved it)

  • on March 5, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    Brilliant Cheema sb! truly like Afridi.

  • on March 5, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    good article. I think with afridi its like this enjoy whatever comes. he will disappoint you most of times, but when he will not, it will be amazing to watch. so live in the moment. What people need to learn is that when you do right , you will be praised. but when you dont, you will not be praised and will be criticized. thats how it goes with all the stars and even in normal people's life. VS BD was special as it was not just hitting. he picked it all well. and done good. taking singles in between.