Tanya's Take

Tanya Aldred

So long, Shahid

If ever a cricketer has been delicious, it has been Afridi

Tanya Aldred

Comments: 12 | Text size: A | A
Shahid Afridi slogged his fourth ball to deep midwicket, Pakistan v Australia, 1st Test, Lord's, July 16, 2010
Keith Milleresque © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Shahid Afridi
Series/Tournaments: Pakistan tour of England
Teams: Pakistan

At Old Trafford last Wednesday, Lancashire were playing Nottinghamshire in the Twenty20. The ground was smart - the proud red Point squatting robustly to the right of the pavilion, defying its detractors; the hanging baskets settling over the dressing rooms, pinks and purples and as lovely as ever.

The clouds were lurking like a pair of heavy grey drapes, but they hadn't drawn fully. There was life in the game, life in the competition. Lancashire had yet to qualify for the quarter-finals, Nottinghamshire were looking for a win to ensure that they got a home game in the next round.

But there was something missing. A summer's evening at half-past five: where was everybody? Where was le atmosphere? Twenty20 can't be dying a pre-pubescent death - not now, not yet. Perhaps a little shake-up is all it needs. How about:

Dress the players all in white and remove names from their backs to add the element of surprise. Switch off all music, with particular reference to House of Pain, so that the sounds of the crowd and the local environment can be heard - the seagulls of Hove, the trams of Old Trafford, the sea at Scarborough, the crisps at Derby. Send the players back to the dressing rooms and chuck out the dugouts. Take away all the microphones and the big screen. Replace electric scoreboards with those with the heavy metal numbers that are slightly worn and creak in the wind. Replace helmets with caps (and all caps to be made from cloth rather than canvas). Remove kids' zones and replace them with old-fashioned nets or second-hand-book stalls. Ban the wearing of any larger-than-life-sized animal costumes. Rip up flags. Switch off floodlights - natural lighting/gloom only. Balls to be red, attitude to be gritty, games to be measured, umpires to be dour. Do you think it might catch on?

Alas, not for Shahid Afridi. For him, it turns out, Twenty20 really is the one. In a fit of honesty that a few politicians might like to emulate, he settled into the TMS studio and announced that he didn't have the patience for the five-day game. "My temperament is not good enough for Test cricket. The team need a proper batsman and a proper bowler." His stint as Test captain had lasted precisely one match. And, incidentally, ended in defeat.

He had been, at Lord's, an absolute treat for 20 minutes. As soon as he charged out of the pavilion on the Wednesday afternoon, the crowd sat up, put down their papers and stayed their chat. Keith Miller-esque, said my father-in-law, who sat in the Tavern and ate pork pies with my dad. There was a flick for six over midwicket; a straight drive over long-off for another six that Afridi was so thrilled with that he tried to repeat it, only to be completely conned by a slower ball from Shane Watson. The second innings was sadder, just a slog straight to the waiting Mike Hussey and a suddenly hangdog walk back to the pavilion, for, it turned out, the last time in a Test.

He has been rhapsodised over, by Geoff Boycott amongst others. His Test averages (36 with the bat, 35 with the ball) compare well to those who have more high-falutin' claims. He is a thrill in a fairly flat field of performers, a swaggerer, a chancer, a hasty but wonderful cocktail with a cherry on top. His locks are Samsonian, his beard for business. Test cricket may have lost him but limited-overs should keep him busy for a bit. Let's hope so. If ever a cricketer has been delicious, it is Afridi.

RSS FeedTanya Aldred lives in Manchester. She writes occasionally for the Guardian

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Posted by Fahad on (July 23, 2010, 19:32 GMT)

Even I criticize Afridi at times... however we should agree ... wen he walks towards crease.. we all do have a SMILE on our faces :)....

Delicious !!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 22, 2010, 6:58 GMT)

Afridi and Delicious!>? seriously!? What are you 'trippin' on woman..? A man who sparkles once in 2 years for span of 1 match, 2 if he is very lucky doesnt need so much accolades..Infact if it was not for Pakistan's Mediocre bunch of talent and players available in the last 10 years to form a team, the so called "Boom Boom" afridi wouldnt have found a place in the 11! But ill tell you what i think afridi thinks is delicious..the round white/red thing...you know what i am talking about ;)

Posted by Usman on (July 22, 2010, 6:56 GMT)

Hi,...Can any one tell me what it means by "His locks are Samsonian, his beard for business." Thank you.

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 21, 2010, 21:50 GMT)

If the Mayans were right and the world is indeed gonna end in 2012, then we should preserve Afridi's name. Surviving people will be able to tell their children about cricket with the story, "Once upon a time there was Afridi who played with cricket as others watched him with awe."

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 21, 2010, 19:21 GMT)

thanx Tanya for these compliments for my hero...LONG LIVE AFRIDI>>>LONG LIVE BOOM BOOM..!!! Cricket has not and definately will not see any body eles like him..!!! ALL HANDS UP...HATS DOWN to Shahid "the boom boom" Afridi..!!! :-)

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 21, 2010, 15:50 GMT)

very nicely worded ! I have been watching him play for several years, even I had a chance to meet him once, no matter how he gives the result to the game, his 5 minutes stay on the pitch brings excitement to the cricket lovers .. yes, there IS some aura about his personality.. a distinctive but intangible quality surrounding him..

Posted by Atif on (July 21, 2010, 14:36 GMT)

Very well written article. With Afridi playing it hardly matters who is winning or loosing. The guy is just a delight to watch. No one brings more excitement to this game but Afridi.

Posted by alfred on (July 21, 2010, 13:02 GMT)

good riddance, maybe Pakistan cricket can move forward now. He might be a great player (not at test level), but he has done nothing for the team as captain. Such a shame that a team with so much potential is always ruined by politics, and over sized egos.

Posted by Sharat on (July 21, 2010, 12:03 GMT)

lets not forget what afridi finds delicious ....Cricket balls!! Chomp chomp Afridi!

Posted by Rob on (July 21, 2010, 11:40 GMT)

I'd like you to push your point about the changes to be made to cricket in order to make it more attractive for spectators at the ICC. Who knows maybe they'll fall for it.....

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Tanya fell in love with cricket during England's Ashes-winning summer of 1985. She went on to be features editor at Wisden Cricket Monthly and a regular-ish contributor to the Guardian. She once hit a six over a sea wall on the Isle of Wight.

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Tanya Aldred Tanya fell in love with cricket during England's Ashes-winning summer of 1985. She went on to be features editor at Wisden Cricket Monthly and a regular-ish contributor to the Guardian. She once hit a six over a sea wall on the Isle of Wight.
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