Afridi’s bringing boom boom back!

Published: March 20, 2013
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Boom Boom is an extraordinary cricketer amongst the plethora of champions cricket has produced, and watching him play still gives me goose bumps. PHOTO: AFP

I started following cricket sixteen years ago when I was hardly five. It has been the only sport which has kept me so engrossed for such a long period of time.

My passion for cricket was ignited by my love for Shahid Afridi. My liking for all other sports fizzles out after a certain period of time, but cricket, for certain remains a sport which will continue to be a craze for me for the better part of my life.

In my sixteen years of watching cricket, I have seen some of the greatest teams play and witnessed some of the legends of the game demonstrate their immense talent. I have come to understand all the nuances of the game, but till date I have not found a more substantial reason for my devotion towards cricket than Shahid Afridi.

Afridi started playing international cricket at the age of 16. He was a brash lad with good looks and a winner’s attitude.

Immediately after his fastest century in his second ODI, he became the heartthrob of millions. No one in the cricketing world had any doubts regarding the immense talent he possessed, but we all expected him to be a consistent performer with the bat in hand.

Everyone, including myself, wanted him to score fifties and centuries each time he came to bat. We wanted him to clobber the finest bowlers, but he is a human being after all and couldn’t deliver every time.

Often times, Afridi could not control his nerves and emotions when the thousands were chanting ‘Afridi Afridi!’ and ‘Boom Boom!’  so he succumbed to the pressure of the crowd and often and left us yearning to see what he could have achieved if he showed a little patience.

Afridi, due to his inconsistency, was an in-and-out player for the earlier years of his career. Though I was mostly let down with his batting, I got more upset whenever he was dropped from the squad.

Just watching him in the greens was enough solace for me.

Lala, as he is popularly known, discovered another talent after his continuous failings with the bat. While he used to bowl a couple of overs in One Day cricket and was predominantly used as a partnership-breaker, he soon discovered that he had some talent with the ball. He could bowl the right arm leg break and googly – effectively too.

He started working on his leg-spin and developed in to a very good bowler around 2004-2005. Who can forget the peach of a delivery he bowled to get rid of Sourav Ganguly in the Bangalore Test of 2005 and turned the entire Test match on its head? He did not spin the ball too much, but it was his accuracy which amounted for most of his wickets.

Afridi possessed the ability to drift the ball in the air. His repertoire of deliveries included a conventional leg-spin, a slider, a faster one, a googly, a flipper and an off-spin, which meant that he could bowl six different deliveries in an over.

I, being an ardent fan of Afridi, started to understand that bowling was his stronger suit. He had much more control on his nerves and his skill with the ball in his hand than the bat. Basically, he was a bowler who could bat rather than a batsman who could bowl.

Afridi, however, is special because of his unpredictability.

If he would have become consistent, Sachin Tendulkar would not have been called the ‘Little Master’ he is, and there would have been two greats in our region.

There was destined to be one Sachin Tendulkar and he was born in India. However, for once, Afridi stole the limelight from Tendulkar when he scored a masterful 141 with the bat in the Madras (now Chennai) Test of 1999 and overshadowed the brilliant 136 of the Little Master.

His memorable performances with the bat include the fastest century in One Day cricket made from 37 balls at the Nairobi Gymkhana Club, 109 against India in Toronto, 141 versus the arch rivals in Chennai, the second fastest century made in Kanpur in 2005, back-to-back hundreds in the Test matches in Lahore and Faisalabad in 2006, his two centuries in the Asia Cup of 2010 and his match-winning fifties in the semi-final and final of the T20 world Cup in 2009.

Afridi’s memorable bowling performances outnumber the ones with the bat. His five-wicket haul on his Test debut against Australia, 5-11 in the Champions Trophy against Kenya, five wickets in the Bangalore Test of 2005 including the wicket of Tendulkar in both innings, 6-38 against Australia in Dubai, 5-35 against Sri Lanka in Sharjah, man-of-the-tournament performance in the 2007 T20 World Cup, title-clinching performance in the 2009 World Cup, 21 wickets in the 2011 ODI World Cup, and several other performances show that he is a far superior bowler than a batsman.

Afridi lost a great deal of his charm and a lot of supporters too in the past year. His performances in 2012 worried me, not because he wasn’t scoring with the bat, but because he had become really ordinary with the ball. The bowler who had so much control on his deliveries seems to have lost all his skill.

Recently, Afridi was dropped from the bilateral ODI series with India on the grounds of poor form both with the bat and the ball. Although he did not regain his form in the matches he played against Afghanistan captaining Pakistan, the selectors gave him a last chance by including him in both ODI and T20 squads.

As has been the case throughout his career, whenever there have been calls for ending his career, he has come up with performances that have stunned everybody. Similar was the case on Sunday when he hit a blistering 88 of 48 balls including seven mammoth sixes!

The six on the free-hit literally went out of the park and many have regarded it to be the biggest six hit on South African soil. The performance was reminiscent of our old Boom Boom who could bludgeon sixes out of the ground and make a mockery of the opposition bowlers.

He deserved to score a hundred but unfortunately fell twelve short.

On the bowling front, there are still major concerns. He has not picked up a single wicket in the three ODIs and has gone for plenty of runs. Having said as much, I assume that as long as he bats like this, no one will grumble about his bowling.

To wrap up my little tribute to my favourite cricketer, I will say that it would have made no difference to my devotion whether he performed in the current series or not, but I am jubilant that Afridi gave me one more performance to cherish for the rest of my life.

 

yousaf.saleem

Yousaf Saleem

Is currently completing his BA.LLB from the Punjab University Law College and is interested in cricket. He tweets @YousafSaleem7.

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

  • http://twitter.com/itstheazizz Abdul Aziz

    Allah ney doh kisam ki makhlook benai hain … eik INSAAN aur doosri PATHAN.. Get it right !! Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    Once in a blue moon performance and here comes Afridiots with full force.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    Afridi fans needs to realize. We lost the match. His all so called huge sixes didnt help us to win it. Yes I know Afridiots will say “Its team game what other players were doing?”

    Here is my question for all Afridiots. What was Afridi performance during last 1 year? What was his contribution last year? Any one here to share his stats here?

    We are just carrying this burden nothing else.Recommend

  • ashu

    Ha ha …the author is comparing afridi with tendulkar… but he was smart enough to understand that tendulkar is and will remain the ultimate one. Afridi of course fires at times but tendulkar somehow misfires at times…Recommend

  • Pakistan

    @ashu: Tendulkar misfires at the time when India realy needs him. HahahahaRecommend

  • Pakistan

    @Rehman: You are suggesting that we should change the whole team, so why dont you gave the trails. Its very easy to comment on tribune but things change when you enter the ground . Atlest praise the good things.

    AFRIDI is still the good player.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    @Pakistan:

    No one is saying changed the whole team. Get rid of this expired product Afridi.

    Once more please share his contribution in last 12 months?

    One performance after ages and here Afridiots saying he is a good playerRecommend

  • Sane

    @ Abdul Aziz that’s racist and @ET allowing this is racist too…. Recommend

  • Pakistan

    @Rehman: Look at his performance before 12 months. His stats will tell you. You can not judge someone on the basis of just 1 year. Bad patch comes to every player that does not mean that he is over.

    Once more Iam suggesting why dont you try for National Team.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    @Pakistan:
    Lets talk about his bowling then care to tell his overall performance against test playing nations in ODI. Also please do tell me his batting average also.

    His bowling average is worst than a part timer bowler. And we should not talk about his batting average.

    Now you will bring his once in a blue moon wonders here.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    A minnowbasher who performs against Kenya, Afghanistan Bangladesh, Canada and one performance after 5 6 yearsRecommend

  • Tahir mahmood

    shahid afridi prove that still he has so much power in his sholders by hitting a historical sixer. but he will have to get his bowling form back if he wants to stay in the team,
    Recommend

  • Pakistan

    @Rehman: He has 326 wickets at an average of 34.09 @ 44.2 strike rate which good for an alrounder. Whatelese do you want.

    He hit most sixed in ODIs,he got most man of matches awards for Pakistan. He took the team to WC semifinals of 2011 when every one was saying that Pakistan will eliminate from 1st round, moral of players was very low, he motivated the players through his leadership. He wins us T20 WC through his performance in Semifinal & Final.

    I think I made my points now its upto you. I dont care.

    This argument is over from my side.Recommend

  • Kiran

    @Pakistan and @Ashu, I am not a big fan of Tendulkar But Seeing Below the Average of Tendulkar and Afridi you can decide yourself. Irrespective of Which ever country you are from please have the humility to respect the good players. After the Era of West Indies, the Pakistani three fast bowlers Imran, Akram and Waqar are respected all over India until today. Before praising your Ek din ka sultan Afridi do bow to the little master.

    Tendulkar

    Batting and fielding averages
    Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St
    Tests 197 325 33 15804 248* 54.12 51 67 69 115 0
    ODIs 463 452 41 18426 200* 44.83 21367 86.23 49 96 2016 195 140 0
    T20Is 1 1 0 10 10 10.00 12 83.33 0 0 2 0 1 0
    First-class 306 484 50 25195 248* 58.05 81 114 186 0
    List A 551 538 55 21999 200* 45.54 60 114 175 0
    Twenty20 77 77 10 2440 100* 36.41 2008 121.51 1 15 313 31 24 0
    Bowling averages
    Mat Inns Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 4w 5w 10
    Tests 197 142 4198 2461 45 3/10 3/14 54.68 3.51 93.2 0 0 0
    ODIs 463 270 8054 6850 154 5/32 5/32 44.48 5.10 52.2 4 2 0
    T20Is 1 1 15 12 1 1/12 1/12 12.00 4.80 15.0 0 0 0
    First-class 306 7563 4353 70 3/10 62.18 3.45 108.0 0 0
    List A 551 10230 8478 201 5/32 5/32 42.17 4.97 50.8 4 2 0
    Twenty20 77 8 93 123 2 1/12 1/12 61.50 7.93 46.5 0 0 0

    Afridi

    Batting and fielding averages
    Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St
    Tests 27 48 1 1716 156 36.51 1973 86.97 5 8 220 52 10 0
    ODIs 352 325 20 7197 124 23.59 6282 114.56 6 34 655 308 113 0
    T20Is 59 56 6 864 54* 17.28 604 143.04 0 4 73 32 16 0
    First-class 111 183 4 5631 164 31.45 12 30 75 0
    List A 447 416 23 9895 124 25.17 8 53 137 0
    Twenty20 130 117 11 2008 80 18.94 1303 154.10 0 7 167 93 33 0
    Bowling averages
    Mat Inns Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 4w 5w 10
    Tests 27 47 3194 1709 48 5/52 5/43 35.60 3.21 66.5 1 1 0
    ODIs 352 326 15414 11866 348 6/38 6/38 34.09 4.61 44.2 4 8 0
    T20Is 59 58 1301 1371 63 4/11 4/11 21.76 6.32 20.6 3 0 0
    First-class 111 13493 7023 258 6/101 27.22 3.12 52.2 8 0
    List A 447 19701 15151 456 6/38 6/38 33.22 4.61 43.2 5 10 0
    Twenty20 130 129 2824 3051 156 5/20 5/20 19.55 6.48 18.1 4 1 0Recommend

  • Anonymous

    He should be brought in earlier, in the batting line up. So he gets a chance to settle on the crease.Recommend

  • crickter

    tendulkar is great player but how many matches he won for his team they can be counted on the other hand afridy have won many matches for his team as he got most man of the match awards and how many wickets tedulkar got afridy got 348 wickets greater than your premier fast bowlers.
    so give respet to bothRecommend

  • ashu

    @pakistan.. jo bhi ho baap baap hota hai aur beta beta hota hai……. n u cannot deny it or can you…Recommend

  • http://www.lcddp.org/umair Umair Ijaz

    Very excelent yousaf bhai. just found the link of blog in a mail by sk bhai on pbcl. yes Afridi is one of the great players but to me seeing him in the squad is not enough. Also, these cricketers are professional, i don’t think that the shout of the spectators will affect the performance so much. The best performance of Afridi which i remembered is in india, i forgot about the year, but he scored 102 and very beautifully made the match lovable to see and great to remember. commentators especially ravi shastri and rameez were making superb comments on him, one of them which is still in my mind is “the pathan had on fire!” with that pitch he uttered this sentence, truely reflected the enthusiasm. On that match rameez raja, in the end told him ” your bat was of wood or iron!”Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    @Pakistan:

    Ha that was not the answer of my query. You said he won us 2009 WT20. Care to tell us his performance in next two WT20s? nil
    You said he motivates player, Yea I still remember how he insulted a debutante during odi series against England in Uk

    And let me tell you no one was saying Pakistan would be eliminated after group matches. Sane spectators knew Pakistan is playing in Sub continent so this 1st round elimination is a lame excuse try something new mate.

    “Oh Lala Oh Lala tu hai meri fantasy”Recommend

  • ozzy

    For all the Afridi Haters,
    Name me one player who has great world records or even top 10 records in batting and bowling.
    This man is full of records, below are only some of them I believe are simply great achievements.

    Batting Records
    Fastest Century in ODI Cricket (World Record)
    Most Sixes in ODI Cricket (World Record)
    Youngest Player to score a 100 (World Record)
    3rd Highest Career Strike Rate (Playing 325 Innings) the other 2 played like 30 innings.

    Bowling Records
    8th Highest ODI Wicket Taker (need 32 more to become 7th), InshAllah this year.
    4th Most 5 Wicket Hauls (need 1 more to become 3rd), InshAllah next game.

    All Round Records
    50 Runs and 5 Wickets in an Innings.
    Only 14 players have done in the history but Afridi is the only person to have done it twice.
    I have no doubt he will do it again.

    Individual Records
    7th most Capped Player (need 4 more to become 6th), InshAllah by this May.
    9th most “Man of the Match Awards” (need 1 more to become 8th), InshAllah next game.

    Haters can only talk but i gotta ask you, what have you ever achieved? other than having a free facebook and twitter account lolRecommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    Every other week you see articles about Afridi.

    Afridi has been around since ages. No Test Cricket worth his salt will agree to name him as a “Great”, unless of course he were Pakistani. Afridi himself has admitted to him not being Test material.

    In ODI’s not many can match the records of real greats Akram, Tendulkar, Muralidharan, Ponting,etc. So, apart from a once in a 6 months innings of 50 or a 100, Afridi has not done worth remembering in ODIs too.

    Even if you consider hard hitting an art, there aren’t greater exhibitionists of the art than Sehwag and Gilchrist; both of whom used to bat up the order. Both have double hundreds against their name. Sehwag has 2 Triple, several doubles against his name. Surely Afridi is no match against the all round capabilities of Gilchrist.

    In terms of talent too, Inzi was the most talented. In the present team Gul, is much better than Afirdi. But, we didn’t see much articles on them like we see with Afridi, do we.. Why is that?

    In terms of mannerisms, Younis Khan was a role model. Always a smile on the face. Afridi has resorted to blatant abuse of Cricket, by literally eating a ball. Not to forget his pitch scratching incident. Not so an intelligent move considering dozens of cameras were aimed at him at that precise moment.

    What is it that makes Pakistanis elevate him to the level of “great”, talk about his few dozen innings worth noting, again and again, more than, say, Younis Khan or Gul or Inzi?

    Maybe the reasoning is not at all in Cricketing terms. Its probably got to do with a harmless man-crush by most Pakistanis. Its a great example an entire nation swooned by good looks and good looks alone. So much so that many Pakistanis attribute him their primary reason to watch Cricket. Even the Author says,

    “I have not found a more substantial
    reason for my devotion towards cricket
    than Shahid Afridi.”

    Recommend

  • pakistan cricket fan

    Once in a blue moon is right, he is a good player but not greater than inzi or anwar and likes. People say he hit a ’12’ but its STILL a six! i love(d) Afridi but i love pakistan more!

    If pakistan loses i fail to see why pakistanis are celebrating all over his sixes and when we won the 2nd match through true grit and application and all round team performance people did not even talk about it cause Afridi had nothing to do with it… having faviorite players is fine and wanting them to be the best performers in TEAM wins is fine but please people stop supporting individual players and start supporting Pakistan!!!Recommend

  • Bharat

    There is one and only one Boom Boom and no one can change thatRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    @ozzy:
    Nice individual records. We are talking about present not past.

    Come again with sane comment
    Oo lala oo lala tu hai meri fantasyRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    @Anoop:
    Bravo Anoop BravoRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    Today 4th Odi against South Africa 0 wickets
    thuss thuss afridiRecommend

  • ozzy

    yo guys check out rehmans twitter page.. nice suit from primark lol wat a guyRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    back to hibernation mode, required run rate way below 6 and his contribution is nil

    Boom Boom BUST BUST Recommend

  • ozzy

    @Rehman: its a game did u watch it with ur suit on? do u normally wear them clip on ties?? try primarks bow tie.. ull luk good man lolRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    @ozzy:
    Aww criticizing “Oo lala oo lala tu hai meri fantasy” really hurting you? Recommend

  • Sane

    He gets spark once in two years for few hours only. Let’s seen now when again this spark cherish us. Now, he will be selected on his currenrt perfgormance for many days without doing any thing. Yesterday he was four on first ball and next ball……..a dead horse.Recommend

  • ozzy

    @Rehman:
    nah mera beta.. suitman cant hurt me. very old kiddy line boy.. come up with something good, somethin new.. by the way ur english is bad.. where u at now? Recommend

  • ozzy

    @Rehman:
    and who am i criticizing? whos putting words in ur mouth? dont copy and paste words from online dictation.. if u cant speak english, then i do understand ur hindi.. Recommend

  • asif

    afridi need to bat as a opener. chk afridi stats when he was opening for pakistan. here is what i think. play him as a special bowler send him a opener . his average is 23 . if he hits 23 in a match his job is done and the day he do boom boom.nobody in the world can stop him
    if afridi were in other team like south or austrailia .they would use him like that for sure.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    5th ODI
    3 ball duck and Afridiots are hidingRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    another feather in his cap
    Afridi became the 1st bowler in ODI cricket history to bowl 200+ balls in a bilateral series without picking up a single wicket
    bust bust AfridiRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    Most ducks by pakistani player
    none other than bust bust afridiRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    9th most “Man of the Match Awards” (need 1 more to become 8th), InshAllah next game.
    4th Most 5 Wicket Hauls (need 1 more to become 3rd), InshAllah next game.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Recommend

  • ozzy

    @Rehman.. hahaha sill in suit??Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman
  • Abdul

    @Rehman:
    kasam se get a job lol ur always leaving comments like little kidsRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    good to see afridiots reading my commentsRecommend

  • Abdul

    @Rehman:
    still there lol its old news man, get over it and wats afridiots? i dont know what it meansRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    0!
    Number of wickets bust bust Afridi took since august 2012Recommend

  • http://yahoo kamil

    i love Afridi he is the best in the world Recommend