Afridi, it's not that Misbah doesn't want you; you're just not good anymore

Just like he has won many matches in his career, he has won so many hearts too, but it is time for Afridi to go.

Zunair Ejaz May 01, 2013
A 16-year-old leg spinner struck the fastest ODI century in 37 deliveries with the help of six fours and 11 sixes on October 4, 1996. After his outstanding performance, he was included in the team as playing XI batsman. Boom Boom Afridi is his name!

I’ll tell you my story now. Whenever Afridi appeared to bat, I used to instantly stand up and chant his name. It’s this feeling that overcomes me each time I see him that I find hard to describe.

I remember a match that was held at National Stadium in Karachi in which Afridi was batting superbly and was on 28 (09) against Sri Lanka when suddenly Mohammad Yousuf misjudged a run and Afridi was out. The whole stadium was in a state of shock and nobody dared to say a word about Afridi. There were whispers about Mohammad Yousuf (though he went on to score a 100) nobody (including me) celebrated his 100, just because he ran our hero out! This little episode sums up our unconditional love for ‘boom boom.’

I have been to numerous cricket matches at various cricket stadiums just to see our beloved Shahid Afridi play. Just like he has won many matches in his career, he has won so many hearts in his lifetime.

In 2010, he became the captain of the Pakistani team. He celebrated his captaincy with exceptional back-to-back hundreds in the Asia Cup of 2010. He continued to live up to his terrific performance and took his team into the semi-final of the World Cup in 2011. He captained his side brilliantly and was also able to take 21 wickets in eight matches.

However, after the world cup semi final defeat against archrival India, the media broke the news that Afridi and his team were having some misunderstandings. But, Afridi and head coach Waqar Younis denied all the rumours and said that they were working for the betterment of Pakistan cricket.

In May 2011, the men in green toured West Indies and this proved to be the last series of ‘boom boom’ as captain. Afridi’s performance was below par; he took two wickets and scored only 28 runs with an average of 9.33. This performance clearly depicts that something was going wrong between him and the head-coach. The down side of this controversy led to Afridi retiring conditionally as he said,
"I have decided to retire from international cricket because I am not in a mental frame of mind to continue playing under this board."

Waqar Younis, too, decided to resign. He moved to Australia as he was not 'fit' to travel frequently. Shahid Afridi missed the series against Zimbabwe. In October 2011, the controversial chairman PCB, Ijaz Butt was replaced by Zaka Ashraf . Afridi took his retirement back and was instantly selected in the ODI and T-20 team that was scheduled to play Sri Lanka in UAE. He performed very well under Misbah's captaincy, took 13 wickets and scored 123 runs. He was the highest wicket-taker in that series, and was titled as Man of the Series.

However, in World T-20 Afridi failed to live up to his spectacular performances. Critics suggested that his time was up, and that he could not play anymore. He was dropped from the ODI team for the series against India, but was selected for two T-20s. After repeating his appalling performance, he was massively criticised by former cricketers and analysts and was a made a target on social media.

A line that was made popular on social media was,
 "Shahid bhai Pepsi piyen or golf hi khelen!"

(Shahid brother, drink Pepsi and just play golf!)

Wasim Akram (who has captained Afridi) said,
"(Shahid) Afridi is a senior player and someone of whom the opposition is always worried about. In India, you need experienced players to handle the pressure and tension."

The New Year started and Pakistan went to South Africa for a series of three Tests, five ODIs, and two T-20s. Afridi was selected in ODI and T-20 squads. He performed well in ODI series scoring above the average of 35, with a strike rate above 182. He also became the first batsman to hit 300 sixes with a massive six over long-on at Bloemfontein. The series ended with 3-2 win in favour of South Africa.

However, the selection panel met recently at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore to discuss the 15-men squad. Here it was decided that Afridi would be axed from the team. Even though Afridi believes that Misbah was against his inclusion in the side, I believe it is time for the golden boy to go.
“It’s the captain’s decision to drop me,” Afridi  stated recently as reported by DAWN.

“It’s no big deal for me if a captain doesn’t want a certain player in the team.”

However, I agree with Iqbal Qasim when he says,
"Afridi's bowling has not been up to the mark in recent matches. He has not taken wickets and his primary role in the team is that of a bowler."

I am saddened, indeed, by this news, but after being in and out of the side so many times, I suggest Shahid Afridi retire from International Cricket and focus on the domestic T-20 leagues.

This post originally appeared here 

Follow Zunair on Twitter @ZunairEjaz
Zunair Ejaz An HR executive in a petroleum refinery. He has completed his MBA in HR from PAF-KIET. He loves to write and watch cricket. He tweets @ZunairEjaz
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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