Boom boom’s latest 180
Afridi’s return to international cricket has been met with excitement and is a much needed boost to Pakistani cricket.
Much to the delight of the boom boom brigade Pakistan’s cricketing superstar has decided for the umpteenth time to announce his comeback to international cricket. His decision wouldn't surprise many considering Mr Ijaz Butt is no longer the commander in chief at the PCB headquarters and that Waqar Younis has taken his place back in the comforts of a commentary box.
To anyone who follows Pakistani cricket, Shahid Afridi’s performance as captain and more significantly as a player was never in question. His credentials and recent performance with the ball in particular are there for everyone to see. During his hiatus from the national team he has kept himself busy playing county cricket in England. His impressive stint in England has not only helped him earn some extra coin but has ensured that his cricket remains rust free. Therefore, based on skill and form alone Shahid should walk back into the Pakistan team.
However, things are never as simple as they seem when it comes to Pakistan cricket.
Our former opening batsman cum movie star cum chief selector, Mr Mohsin Khan has avidly decided to give a shot to coaching and is filling in the void of head coach of the national team albeit for the time being.
Now this is where things get a little more interesting. In Mohsin’s absence, the chief selector duties are to be performed by the infamous ‘sussar' (father-in-law) Mohammad Illyas.
Illyas’s feelings about Afridi are hidden to none. Post Afridi’s announcement to retire, Illyas was a man on a mission. In a spate of interviews on various television channels across the country, Illyas tried to discredit Afridi’s performance both as player and captain. Needless to mention, that his efforts were as futile as when he went on a hunger strike outside the Ghaddafi stadium to protest against Bob Woolmer and the non selection of his ‘damaad’. Meanwhile, Afridi being his blunt self has also made sure that his opinions about Illyas are well heard. In much documented interviews and articles published after his forced retirement, Afridi nominated Illyas as the thorn in the Ijaz Butt-Afridi relationship. The ‘Lahore Mafia’ as Afridi put it, was working overtime to get rid of Afridi both as player and captain to pave way for the likes of Imran Farhat to return to the international team. With much uncertainty looming around the new Chairman of PCB, and with more questions than answers, it would be safe to assume that Mohsin Khan and Mohammad Illyas will continue with the current roles of coach and chief selector respectively for the foreseeable future.
As much as this soap opera is fascinating and continues to spring surprises one after the other, let’s hope that sanity prevails and egos and personal differences are put on the back burner. Shahid Afridi’s return to international cricket is a much needed boost to Pakistan cricket and more importantly for the countless boom boom fans across the globe. The fact that Shahid Afridi is trending worldwide on Twitter, as I write this piece, is testimony to his recognition and status the world over.