Happy birthday Shahid Afridi!

Published: March 1, 2013

The day I met Afridi and he interacted with me was the best day of my life. PHOTO: REUTERS

My first interaction with Shahid Afridi lasted only a couple of seconds. It was just a shake of the hand. Even still, it made my day.

It was March 16, 2004 to be exact. Pakistan had beaten India in the second ODI of the Samsung Cup and Shahid Afridi who had been recalled to the team after a long gap had played a big part in the victory scoring 80(58) and also taking two wickets for 57 runs.

Shahid Afridi, back then, was all about being carefree. You could see it in his behaviour, the way he talked, the way he moved and the way he always had a smile on his face. Everything about him screamed passion; you could see it in his bowling and you could see it in his batting and in the way he fielded.

He was a super star.

The crowd doted on him. They chanted his name and wanted him to hit a six on every ball when he came out to bat. You could see a multitude of banners vividly displaying his name alongside messages of hope; you could see the crowd going wild when he fielded near the boundary ropes.

His bowling was a bonus in those days.

My next memorable interaction with Afridi was during the 2005/06 series after he had smashed Harbhajan Singh for four sixes in an over and that too during the first Test match in Lahore scoring a magnificent 102 runs with seven sixes.

He still had that smile on his face with the slightest hint of a beard by then.

“Autograph please”, I said.

My voice barely coming out.

Idahar lao, naam kya hai tumhara?”, he asked in his heavy voice.

(Come here, what is your name?)

I handed him the tennis ball.

“Raafay”, I said.

He signed the tennis ball. No words, nothing else written. I was disappointed, grabbing the ball with my hand and turning away.

“Left hander ho?” he said again.

“Yes,” I said.

“Cricket kheltay ho?” he said again.

(Do you play cricket?)

Jee,” I said.

(Yes)

Shaabaash, good luck,” he said.

(Well-done, good luck)

I felt overwhelmed and ran home to relate everything that happened to my parents.

He went on to score another century in the next match with the same passion that is characteristic of our Lala. By now religion was starting to play an important role in his life, it was obvious. Praying five times a day even during the match days was a normal routine for him now.

His batting was more consistent than before and his bowling was worth bowling him 10 overs during the ODI matches with four players all on the off-side to stop runs. The crowd still wanted him to hit a six on every ball and he was willing to oblige. Nothing much had changed about Afridi in the cricketing sense – he was still the same.

The last of my memorable interactions with Afridi was during the World Cup 2011.

Pakistan had beaten Sri Lanka just two days ago. Shahid Afridi was man of the match with the figures of 4/34 in his 10 overs. His beard had grown thicker, he was stronger now.

Religion had its markings on him.

InshaAllah” was a common word in most of his conversation.

InshaAllah we will reach the semi-final if we keep on playing like this,” he had said.

That smile still played on his face, but you could tell he was a lot more measured in everything he did now; he wanted to lead by example. His bowling had come of age in the past two to three years – easily the best leg spinner in the shorter format commentators would say.

Taking a wicket with his hands thrown in the air, legs stretched wide, standing like hero is a familiar sight for cricket lovers now, one that we all dote on.

Photo: Reuters

Although Afridi has faced a rough patch, I am certain that he will bounce back in to form and please us again in the T20 series against South Africa.

As Cricinfo simplifies it,

“Of Shahid Afridi, it can safely be said that cricket never has and never will see another like him. To say he is an all-rounder is to say Albert Einstein was a scientist.”

A complete super star, easily the most loved one in Pakistan and around the world. He became a heartthrob after his first cricket match, and he still is all around the world.

Happy Birthday Shahid Afridi; no matter what transpires, you will always be a favourite for millions in the cricketing world.

This post originally appeared here.

Read more by Raafay here, or follow him on Twitter @raafayawan

Raafay Awan

Raafay Awan

A Pakistani living in the United States, cricket enthusiast, blogger and freelance writer who loves traveling and history. He tweets as @Golgappaa (twitter.com/GolGappaa)

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

  • Javeria

    I love Afridid so much. Wouldn’t mind marrying him.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    As a player, Afridi is past his prime – Zahra’s blog a few months back was spot on!

    But he looks so yum – Good to be had for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Recommend

  • Ayesha Arif

    hats off Raafay !! wat a superb write up, each nd every word is direct from ur heart, nd has gne direct into my heart!! indeed world of cricket has never seen like u nd never will !! loads of love fr Lala <3Recommend

  • Pakistan

    He still is a very good player he will make his comeback Insha ALLAH.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/SherShahidKhanAfridi Hilal
  • Faizy Gillani

    Lovd this a lot Raafay… :-)
    Salute to this lively legend… ;-)
    I must say Pakistan Cricket wil b no more Shining Without Afridi…
    Love You Champ….Recommend

  • Arimsha

    Happy,birthday shahid mere liye aap hamesha ek jaise hi rahege NO 1Recommend

  • Biya

    A million hats off to shahid afridi ……He is a great human being, May ALLAH bless him and his family. AmeenRecommend

  • Arimsha

    Hi Shahid Happy birthday mere liye aa
    p hamesha,ek jaise hi rahege NO 1Recommend

  • ss

    Happy birthday Lala.Recommend

  • The Rebel

    Happy birthday big man. Here’s to a great day for you and the Pakistan team. Hope you find your feet soon against SA.
    However, I think it’s high time we Pakistani people realize that no individual is bigger than the team. It’s a common rule which is applied to almost every sport, but we (the people and the PCB) tend to turn a blind eye towards it. If someone’s not performing, just having him in the team for the sake of having him or because he’s a crowd puller is foolish to say the least. Select on merit, not reputation.Recommend

  • Furqan Khan

    Happy birthday Lala.We always support you ,,,,,, You Are championRecommend

  • Yasir Mehmood

    Happy birthday and please spare Pakistani team.Recommend

  • http://facebook wahab

    happy birthday boom boom afridi wishing complet away i hope today good perform from wahab Recommend

  • Pakistanian

    its time for us to move on from Shahid Afridi, a sub standard cricketer who has played for the last 15 years based on a couple of performances!! Its a shame that he could not improve despite the 150 opportunities given to him!

    Happy Birthday nonetheless …. I am sure he has turned 20 now?!!!Recommend

  • mati ullah khan akhonzada

    afridi bhai happy birth day to you and you rock and you are a superstar Recommend

  • Mohd.Wakeel Mewati

    happy birthday BOOM BOOM Shahid Afridi
    God bless you Afridi , I hope ALLAH you played in this session best cricket our carrier.
    KHUDA HAFIJRecommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    No Test Cricket commentator worth his salt will label Shahid Afridi as a great. No one.. If he does, usually he is a Pakistani.

    Afridi for most part of his career was not the bowler he is today, or was a year or two ago. There is not much to talk about with respect to his batting either, with the occasional 50, in like 20 balls. He himself has admitted Test Cricket is not for him, that alone should bring him down in purist’s eyes.

    Its curious for me why this person is so adored, why not Inzi, who actually had talent and has contributed.

    I know I will get the usual “you are wrong” replies. But, ask yourself, am I really wrong?Recommend

  • MR Humair

    Happy birthday Shahid Khan Afridi . Mr raffey very well written .Each and every single word I could easily relate it to .Some times what ever hard work you do ,luck is not your way .Always remember in life difficulties are part of it and after every bad times there are good times a ahead .One must grab the opportunities, and fame will ran after you .Afridi is one of the talented players which our team needs in upcoming world cup at least .Our selection team must give him few more chances to hold his nerves and concentrate well on field .Recommend

  • http://Seoul Faraz

    Shahid Afridi: an incredibly overrated cricketer who managed to play for 15 years based on a very lucky first performance. Afridi trolls will hit me hard but they should themselves know… how good looks (alone) make you a very lucky person!Recommend

  • http://www.tribune.com Vivek

    Shahid Afridi has won the man of the match awards for more than 25 times. he has won a T-20 World cup single handed and he was the best bowler in the world cup He is not only the fastest century maker but also has 4 fastest half century. 7000 runs and 350 wickets and by the way he was not bed in test cricket avg. of 37 with 6 centuries.He is unique there will never be another afridi. . @Anoop: Recommend

  • http://www.tribune.com Vivek

    Shahid Afridi has won the man of the match awards for more than 25 times. he has won a T-20 World cup single handed and he was the best bowler in the world cup He is not only the fastest century maker but also has 4 fastest half century. 7000 runs and 350 wickets and by the way he was not bed in test cricket avg. of 37 with 6 centuries.He is unique there will never be another afridi.@Anoop: Recommend

  • http://www.tribune.com Vivek

    Excellent All-Rounder with more than 7000 runs and 350 wickets. He really played well under the coaching of Bob-Woolmer both in Test Cricket and ODI Cricket. He was very good as opener but never consistent but still most exciting Cricketer when on song. These days a top ODI bowler. He is unique so he will always be remembered by his fans all around the World I will stop watching Cricket after he retires. Recommend

  • Dr. Amyn Malik

    Nicely put! Recommend

  • http://price-in-pakistan.com Ummi

    Boom Boom Afridi.. Geo Afridi..Recommend

  • Haseeb Talal Khan

    Afridi is already a spent force….so please guys, find someone else…..Recommend

  • http://ziiptv.com Afridi Fan

    Shahid Afridi is a man who made cricket Boom Boom. Recommend

  • fAbdul QadirKhan

    Very nice article, my heart’s voice

    and now lala is back, so it even soothes more to read nice words about him

    Lala u r sb se aala, Recommend

  • jahangir Ahmadzai

    Shahid afridi was my favorite Cricketer, he is my favorite and he will be my favorite for ever. East or West afridi is the best Recommend