Why should Afridi steer the ship?

Published: April 12, 2012

His previous performances and leading capabilities, as seen on the field, should be all that matter. PHOTO: AFP

On March 30, 2011, when the team lost to our arch rivals and eventual champions, India in the semi-finals of the coveted 2011 World Cup, this is what our team captain at the time, Shahid Afridi had to say:

“I want to say sorry to my nation. We tried our level best but couldn’t make it. I am pleased with the way my team played throughout the competition.”

He apologised for leading a fragmented, jaded, and weak team to the top four; something which he envisaged on February 9, 2011. The talismanic all-rounder was stripped of his title as captain by the infamous ex-chairman PCB Ijaz Butt. This step, however, must have delighted his critics, especially when we consider that the darling of the crowd took a short-lived retirement.

Although, much to their disenchantment, he came back with a vengeance; ever since his comeback he has scored 345 runs and taken 29 wickets with some player of the match awards too. The captaincy conundrum has once again appeared in Pakistan’s cricket, owing to the likelihood of skipper Misbah’s removal from captaincy of the shorter formats.

The anti-Afridi lobby is vociferously campaigning against his reinstatement as skipper, but there is a strong rationale for giving him the crown which was unjustly taken from him, if and when the ageing Misbah is booted out.

Firstly, statistics corroborate the fact that Afridi has performed well with both bat and ball as a skipper. However, there are people who baselessly say that the burden of captaincy hampers his own performance. It is noteworthy that Afridi was the highest wicket taker during the 2011 World Cup, having taken 21 wickets during the mega event. This alone is a testament to his capabilities as a captain.

Afridi’s batting, as well as bowling heroics prove adequately that being captain does not hinder him in the least. Hence, the notion that captaincy saddles him is nothing but hogwash.

Moreover, Afridi took command of a dejected, beleaguered, and a broken team – one that was marred by spot-fixing cases, but who were almost the champions in the 2011 World Cup.

After the Lord’s Test against Australia, Afridi led the team to a 2-3 loss against England in a closely fought series which we would have won had it not been for poor umpiring. The series was great for Afridi as skipper because he managed to take the best from the boys even when the British crowd and media were busy shouting out profanities.

The series against South Africa was, again, a closely fought series which ended in the same result; he took the team to New Zealand and won the series amidst all the pressure that one can imagine. He was never assured of leading the team; the World Cup started on February 19, 2011, and Afridi was appointed captain on February 4, 2011. Yet, he took full responsibility for whatever transpired in the mega event.

In 2010, the team for the T20 World Cup was announced on the March 15, while Afridi was named captain after 8 days.

Why? This was unprecedented. Still the man didn’t raise an eyebrow.

Thirdly, Afridi always led with a great deal of passion which was evident on the field. He must be given credit for instilling a winning attitude in a jaded team. He reposed confidence in players like Hafeez, Shehzad, Shafiq, and Ajmal who were naïve at the time, but delivered because Afridi was able to motivate them.

Now, almost all of them have made a mark for themselves. Moreover, the way he used senior players like Razzaq and Akhtar was commendable.

At the end, one needs to question the wisdom of the former head of PCB. He removed a successful captain who was gradually taking the team forward; new players like Asad Shafiq, Wahab Riaz, and Ahmad Shehzad found their footing under his leadership and the team was an assortment of juniors and seniors.

There was no pretext for removing Afridi.

To sum up thus, Afridi ought to be reinstated as the skipper because of his aggressiveness, previous performances, and his unfair removal from captaincy. His previous performances and leading capabilities, as seen on the field, should be all that matter and this should be enough to ensure his being reinstated as captain.


Follow Ali on Twitter @pakistan199220.

Syed Ali Zia Jaffery

Syed Ali Zia Jaffery

The author is a BSC Hons student at FC College University where studies politics, international relations and economics. He tweets @pakistan199220.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • touqeer

    Afridi is a best option for captaincy and he have a ability to make a PAk team number 1 is the world…Recommend

  • Tanjib

    well said ali.. :DRecommend

  • asad ali abid

    well i think afridi should be captain. he has the capability to lead the team.Recommend

  • ali

    well, typo errors can be made by humans and i am also a human; i think u r not the only one who knows the flowery words. i just came across the language that you used with your pals on twitter regarding me, so i thought you need to be reminded; there is no need to fight relaxRecommend

  • ali

    @Ahmed:
    You have all the right to bicker with my viewpoint and vice versa, but definitely I will not address you in unkind words even in my group of friends. ThankyouRecommend

  • hyra bashir

    AFRIDI is the BEST option.. he has ability the capability to lead the team .. hex not defensive at leastRecommend

  • Morfi

    @Afaaq:
    Great comment Afaaq Sb. Two wrongs dont make a right, and when it aint broken, no need to fix it. Agreed that Afridi was wrongly removed from captaincy – though some of the blame goes to him as well for giving it up and playing the antics; but Misbah has performed wonderfully well and we dont need a change in captaincy right now…. we shd learn to back our captain and not plot against him all the time.Recommend

  • boom boom fan

    even a big fan of afridi wd feel weird sometimes see him as an actor amusing fans on ground, he has found joy in stardom so he is nt a good cricketer anymore……Recommend

  • Ali

    @Morfi:
    I have not mentioned my desire to relinquish misbah of captaincy because he has done exceedingly well; i just said if and whenRecommend

  • Cynical

    Afridi is a joke and fittingly became the darling of pompous Pakistani fans. Misbah is a serious follower of the beautifull game that cricket is and always played the game within it’s moral bounadaries.That itself is an unknown commodity to a mass of illiterate zingoists that we are. Recommend

  • Rehman

    Very well said Cynical! Recommend

  • http://NY ahmed

    Is this a blog on a national newspaper? Seems like an immature piece of writing by a teenage fan.Recommend

  • Rehman

    @ahmed:

    Blog by immature fan of Mr Me(Afridi) who smells ball with his teeth.

    Superman stuff I must say!Recommend

  • Cynical

    @Syed Ali Zia Jaffery

    I am with you on Afridi. But you forgot to mention one aspect of his game which goes far beyond taking wickets and scoring runs; which actually can turn the match on it’s head i.e changing the playing condition. By chewing the ball and scrubbing the pitch with his boot (remember the Faisalabad test against England) he brings two extra bowlers into the team without affecting the official list of playing eleven. Recommend

  • zainab

    good work and Afridi is the best captain.Recommend

  • Rehman

    Oh Poor MR Me Fans! Hafeez has been appointed as captain of T20 and deputy of Misbah in ODIs and Tests. Now start crying!Recommend

  • AN

    @Rehman:
    Thanks God. Now i could relax. Hafeez is a good choice.Recommend