Afridi out, rhythm broken
Shahid Afridi might be a heartthrob who stars in fancy Pepsi commercials, and flaunts his hair in a shampoo ad campaign, but he is much more than that.
Our nation loves him because he is bold. He violates conformity, embraces flamboyance and transmits synergy characteristics found in successful leaders. He led Pakistan to a laudable campaign in the 2011 World Cup, given the instability and chaos that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was in. We lost to archrivals India in the semi-finals in Mohali. We hated it. But we forgot that it was just not Afridi’s fall to take.
Yesterday the PCB replaced him with Misbahul Haq as the one-day captain for the series in Ireland, despite a 3-2 series win in the Caribbean. Allegedly, Afridi was stripped of the captain’s armband not primarily on the basis of his on-field performances but because he is ‘outspoken’. He spoke to the media despite warnings. It is understood that this move by the PCB is likely to teach him a lesson that the coach, no matter how and when he errs, cannot be publicly critiqued.
Defying rules and speaking his mind was always one of Afridi’s favourite characteristics. To strip him of the captaincy on these grounds might be a fruitful tactic to teach the team members the value of discipline; it however is not going to be a wise decision for the sport in general.
Throughout the World Cup many said it is important to carry on with a winning combination - Danish Kaneria, Zaheer Abbas, Inzamamul Haq all have said it out aloud - but now the PCB has not hesitated to show that our cricket board’s priorities are foggy.
After a team’s successful tour, it might prove to be detrimental to change the captain. Winning ways have a tendency to cascade into more victories - we saw that in the case of India during the World Cup.
The winning leadership has been disturbed; the rhythm will undoubtedly be out of sync. It shouldn’t come as
a surprise to Ijaz Butt if Pakistan stumbles again. He had it coming.
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