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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

Alex Bowden

Comments: 30 | Text size: A | A
Shahid Afridi was bowled by Kyle Mills for 7, New Zealand v Pakistan, 2nd Twenty20, Hamilton, December 28, 2010
"Your probabilities and percentages have no place here" © AFP

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.

RSS FeedAlex Bowden blogs at King Cricket

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Posted by Arif 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.

Posted by Dummy4 on (May 5, 2013, 8:06 GMT)

Great Article, this is what Afridi is..

Posted by Dummy4 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.

Posted by ubaid 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by Dummy4 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.

Posted by Dummy4 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.

Posted by imran 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

Posted by Dummy4 on (May 3, 2013, 8:13 GMT)

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

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