Slam and dunk: Wasim vs Afridi
Yes, Afridi's conditional retirement is becoming a joke but Akram is no one to point fingers
“Afridi is making things too complicated for the PCB. Cricket is a team game and not an individual sport. You have to treat the interests of the team and the management above your individual preferences.”
These were the words of former fast bowler and batsman Wasim Akram to ESPN in response to Shahid Afridi’s retirement decision.
It definitely seems as though Afridi is a a little confused. He announced his retirement earlier this year after differences with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on May 30. He said:
"I won’t play for Pakistan under the current PCB set-up. Self-respect is something I hold in high esteem and this board has done nothing but downgraded me. I've had enough of this and took this decision after careful consideration.”
His retirement, however, was conditional. he stated that he would return if the board was replaced. There was news of this issue being settled when he withdrew his petition after an out-of-court arrangement, and the PCB reinstated his No Objection Certificate (NOC), that also allowed him to resume County Cricket.
In between all this, Afridi also expressed his desire to return after head coach Waqar Younis' period expired with the end of the Zimbabwe tour.
This isn’t the first time he had called it quits. Having been appointed Test captain in 2010, Afridi bowed out after just one match, quoting inability and lack of form to play the said format. He captained Pakistan to the 2011 World Cup semi-final but was replaced by Misbahul Haq.
Afridi seems not only confused but immature as well.
Life does not always present one with a smooth ride - there will always be some problems along the way. I suppose that our dear all-rounder has yet to understand this bitter truth. So, Afridi was mistreated, and he faced some issues; is this a reason enough to abandon your team and country?
Besides, Afridi's repeated decision to retire, the skipper has also openly spoken about the team’s differences in front of the media. Talk about being disgraceful! As Wasim Akram put it this is a big, fat joke – where the rest of the world will have the last laugh. Afridi led Team Green to the semis in the 2011 Cricket World Cup and gave us a reason to smile amidst the calamities we as a nation are facing. Even that loving concessional speech after the match was heartfelt. However, with his antics he successfully threw away the goodwill that he and the team had earned.
Yet, Akram's criticism is plagued with the deepest irony. This is because he, himself was involved in a lot of what contributed to the joke that Pakistan cricket is today. I doubt that any one of us can forget the allegations against him regarding the issues with ball tampering and match fixing. Wasim Akram probably just got lucky in 1992, after a brilliant spell against the English batsmen. That is when allegations of him fiddling with the ball surfaced in the English media. No filmed evidence of shady play, however, was ever found and this let things clear out on their own. A much bigger issue was created when match fixing accusations stirred against Akram. A Pakistan high court judge (Malik Mohammad Qayyum) led a series of investigations and reported that:
“This commission feels that all is not well here and that Wasim Akram is not above board. He has not co-operated with this Commission. It is only by giving Wasim Akram the benefit of the doubt after Ata-ur-Rehman changed his testimony in suspicious circumstances that he has not been found guilty of match-fixing. He cannot be said to be above suspicion.”
I personally feel that Wasim Akram very aptly described the whole Afridi retirement fiasco. However, he could have been more diplomatic and tactful. He should have reviewed his own past and realised that before pointing fingers he should consider his own actions.
I beg our heroes to quit throwing mud at each other in public. Can these things not be settled internally? Must the whole world be amused by Pakistani cricket politics? Must we make our cricket scandals a bigger joke than they already are?