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'I am what I am'

A great thinker once said “I am what I am”

Brydon Coverdale
Brydon Coverdale
Shahid Afridi announced he was quitting Test cricket after Pakistan's defeat, Pakistan v Australia, 1st Test, Lord's, July 16, 2010

Shahid Afridi walks back to the pavilion after slogging his fourth ball of Pakistan's second innings to deep midwicket: the moment he decided to call time on his Test career  •  AFP

A great thinker once said “I am what I am”. It might have been Descartes. Or maybe Popeye the Sailor Man. It could just have easily been Shahid Afridi. One match into his Test comeback, he realised he didn’t have the temperament for five-day cricket and promptly quit.
You’ve got to hand it to Afridi, the man knows how to entertain, whether it’s sinking his teeth into a cricket ball, whacking Shaun Tait back over his head for six or hammering 14 from his first five balls in Test cricket in four years.
Even in his retirement announcement, Afridi didn’t tone things down. For most Australian players, farewelling Test cricket is an emotional experience that more often than not brings a tear to the player’s eye. Not Afridi.
Here was a man who was retiring after one comeback game, having slogged his fourth ball in the second innings straight to the man at deep midwicket. He was the captain, he had to set an example for his junior colleagues on putting a price on one’s wicket.
The media were entitled to ask him some tough questions at his post-match press conference. To Afridi’s credit, he didn’t offer any half-baked excuses, he simply stated what everyone watching the game had already realised: he wasn’t a Test player.
Afridi was asked when he decided to retire. “When I got out,” he replied. Laughter rippled throughout the room, where Afridi was being grilled by a group of about 20 journalists.
Another reporter asked if he simply couldn’t stop himself trying to hit six off every ball. Smiling, Afridi agreed: “Yes, you are right.”
It was the ultimate mea culpa from a Test captain. He might as well have shrugged and said, “Yeah, I’m outta control! Can’t do nothin’ about it.”
And when he was asked if he could make more money by just playing Twenty20 and 50-over cricket, he replied, dismissively: “I’ve got enough money.”
So there. It was a refreshingly candid and good-humoured press conference, given the circumstances. Even in retirement, Afridi continues to entertain. Thank goodness he’s still going to play Twenty20. There he can be more Popeye than Descartes.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here