An emotional Pakistan T20I captain Shahid Afridi admitted if he debuted in 2006 instead of 1996, he wouldn’t have survived 20 years of international cricket.
“If I would have debuted in 2006 at the age of 18, I think I wouldn't have lasted 20 years,” Afridi said in an interview with ESPNCricinfo.
Looking back at his two decades in international cricket, the all-rounder said, “In this era, playing 20 years is impossible because there is too much cricket nowadays, which results in too many injuries.”
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“Playing for Pakistan was such a huge dream. I never thought I would play this long. At the time I thought, I've got an entry, a little more will be fine. But I kept going from there. Seniors like Wasim Akram and Moin Khan really pushed me. I needed that. I was performing at a young age, with all that fame, the world record. I got the strength slowly, got support from my seniors and elders, but I never thought I'd play this much,” he added.
Responding to a question whether he ever doubted himself, the 36-year-old said, “At the start, the expectations people had was from my batting - that he will come and hit out. To change myself was really difficult. I couldn't focus enough on my bowling, through which I had got into the team. People wanted to see my batting.”
Crediting Bob Woolmer for not trying to change anything about him, unlike other Pakistan coaches, he said, “That wasn't possible, because everyone has a different kind of talent.”
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The 36-year-old also said that winning or losing is a part of the game, but all he wants from the team is a 100 % effort. “The only talk I have with my team is that I want 100% effort on the field,” said Afridi.
“Win or lose is a part of the game, but I just want people to say that the team today has really given it all, they have given their lives for this performance.”
The former Pakistan captain also dismissed any comparison between him and current Pakistan Test leader Misbahul Haq. “I can never get to the level of Misbah,” said Afridi. “His talking and thinking is completely cricket to what I think or talk about.”
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The Peshawar Zalmi all-rounder also went on to say that Pakistan Super League (PSL) will help cricket in the country, but it will take some time. “Of course it will help cricket in Pakistan,” he said. “But not right now, as it will take at least three to four years.”
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