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Monday, September 19, 2011

Shahid Afridi: just a breed or a need?

Opinion: Shahid Afridi may announce his comeback very soon, but does he really deserve to be given a chance?

Shahid Khan Afridi, aka Afridi, is probably at the peak of his career. He was very recently toppled down by his team-mate Muhammad Hafeez, who grabbed the third spot in ICC all-rounder rankings, pulling Afridi on to the fifth spot. However, this might have not been as easy for Muhammad Hafeez as it was, had Afridi been playing international cricket.

The frisky all-rounder sidelined himself from the team after announcing his conditional retirement over the disagreements with the management. Now that the management is about to go through major changes (once again), Afridi intensely wants to play for his country, that too once again. Sources whisper that he will soon have a meeting with the patron of the board and chances are that he may announce his return to international cricket after the meeting but does he really deserve to be in the team?

A cricket fanatic, Afridi lover would impulsively shout out loud “hell yeah!”, on the other hand, a rational person would find himself stuck between the see-saw of right and wrong along with the web of pros and cons. But does he really deserve to be in the team?

The answer is yes, if only, considering his contribution to the Pakistan cricket. The energetic fellow played a key role in the victory of T20 World Cup 2009, got the team into the semi-finals of World Cup 2011, performed consistently well with his bowling, and yielded more than just satisfactory results through his leadership qualities. The mere numbers and figures associated with the player may not reveal all that Afridi has to offer but anyone would agree that Afridi is of a breed that is anything but common. People and experts would also agree that Afridi is the only man born with tailor-made qualities to be the T20 superstar who was born 27 years before the format achieved an official status.

A player with 315 ODI wickets and 53 T20i wickets is someone who has already earned his right to be given chances and take liberties. And if that player is Shahid Afridi, someone who is at his peak of his career, does need to be taken in and exploit for the good of a country that has not had the taste of happiness with abundance.

However, a rational mind will never be impulsive. A logical approach would take one asking questions like, we just won in Zimbabwe do we still need him? He may not play the next World Cup, shan’t we find a replacement and get over with him? What about his erratic behavior? Sudden retirement from the tests and then conditional retirement from cricket, should not he be told that his inclusion in the team is not implied? Shahid Afridi may have turned out to be an exceptional all-rounder (finally, after 15 years) but does that make him above the ethics and code of conduct? Was it fair to his fans and country to retire from the sport because of his personal disagreements with the coach?

The answers of such questions would lead one to oppose his return to the team at least if not sentencing him a death penalty. But one always knows that appropriate conduct, abiding rules and coherent thinking hasn’t really been virtues of the all-rounder. For all the mistakes that he made, he should be punished but an opportunity to swing his arms and bowl his bowls is due for a player that has delivered numerous times for his country and gained a lot of affection and love from all over the world, if not respect.

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