KARACHI: Shahid Afridi’s comeback made the headlines and the all-rounder marked it with a grand performance in the opening One-Day International (ODI) against the West Indies.
But there are a few behind-the-scene talks that make his presence in the team all the more controversial.
“He brings in a lot of energy to the team that increases the motivation level,” said a player, who has played under Afridi’s captaincy.
“He has fighting qualities and that is a trait that helps the younger players. For junior teammates, he is an inspiration because he gives players confidence and teaches a never-say-die approach.”
Another of his teammate, one of the few accomplished current team members, also expressed delight on his return.
“No doubt, Afridi’s impact is always felt,” he said. “We had a World Cup instance when he led the team to the semi-finals. We rest a lot of hope on him despite his inconsistent performance.”
However, the player said that the feeling is not shared in the entire dressing room.
“Many players, especially the decision-making members of the squad, feel uncomfortable in his presence.
“The reasons are obvious — because it’s uneasy for them to handle a player of this stature. A sense of insecurity of losing power creeps in his presence. They say he’s difficult to handle and that brings a negative effect on the team. The same players also feel that Afridi is a celebrated cricketer because of his media contacts.”
An official close to the team also endorsed the stance.
“There is peace around when Afridi is not in the team,” the official quoted a senior cricketer as saying.
When posed a query on the related topic to Afridi in an interview, he had said, “I have no attitude problems.
“The way I enjoy the dressing room atmosphere, nobody else does. In fact, I made things better after I was made captain. I always try to keep the atmosphere vibrant to distract players in a pressure situation.
“I also don’t have any ego problems as I am always ready to play under any captain and always give my best to satisfy him with my performance.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2013.
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