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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Afridi, retirement is not the answer

I share the sentiments of all those people who fanatically worship Shahid Afridi for the performer he is in the world of cricket. I, being an avid follower of the sport, have always believed that Afridi is a match-winning player who could give a pounding to the best bowlers of the world and baffle the most stringent batting line-up with his variation of spin, arm-balls and googlies.
Afridi honestly earned every ounce of our respect after he steered the Pakistan cricket team to propel them into the semi-final of the World Cup with India. Much to our distaste, he did not seize the prospect to down the arch-rivals and bring the trophy home but came back home standing tall and proud for his achievements and gave us something to cheer about.
However, as charismatic as Afridi is, he has not matured over his fourteen-years-long career into the cricketer most people would like him to be – he is as reckless and uncontrolled as the fire cracker he was when he was sixteen. One would think that it was about time he grew up.
Afridi has been a loyal and sincere player throughout his career but has always been a victim of severe criticism from his seniors. Wasim Akram, under whom Afridi began his flourishing line of business, always said that he could never comply with strategies. He would complain that every time Afridi was sent out to bat, he would tell him to take his time on the pitch, follow the game plan and then try to score runs – but Afridi never listened. He would lash out at every ball, in the hope of making contact and in most cases threw his wicket away in the process.
Afridi announced his retirement from international cricket claiming that he would not play for Pakistan under the current Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) setup and hinted at the present dissection of the sport due to a Punjab lobby being established against the Karachi players. Whether true or not, I wish Afridi would come forward and enlighten his followers about the matter instead of vexing their loyalties by making slapdash comments to the media.
I would have expected Afridi to put all the politics aside and emerge as the bigger person under the gruesome state of affairs. I thought there was a true leader in him just as there was in Imran Khan and Wasim Akram. I hoped that he would continue to storm the nation with his feats after being mentored by Wasim just as Wasim had done when Imran guided him. I imagined Afridi to retire like Shoaib Akhtar, with tears of love for the game in his eyes, and not the detestation that he portrayed.
Still, for people like Afridi, our public is programmed to conveniently forget all those dreadful expositions he enacted on and off the field and instead cherish the few good memories he has given us. On behalf of his stanch cohorts, I urge Afridi to reconsider his statements, put his ego aside and serve the team regardless of his discrepancies with the PCB. This is too sour a note for a talent like him to withdraw
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