Shahid Afridi was a sensation when he entered the cricket with 37 ball 100 against the then world champions Sri Lanka. He became instant hero and SA portraits were all over Pakistan. I remember one hanging in room of my cousins. He has now written an autobiography by the name of “Game Changer” as he considers himself to be one, claiming his fast 100 changed the way cricket used to played. I was and to some degree still am a fan of SA. Even the TV screens got crowded when he entered the crease with the bat and left deserted when he got out. He was a face of Pakistan cricket.
The man is seen putting blame on people and on system in his autobiography. He portrays Javed Miandad, Muhammad Yousaf, Amir Suhail and Salman Butt in rather black colors while praises Wasim Akram, Moin Khan and Saeed Anwar. There is almost constant whining about the dressing room politics throughout the book. The book, like the man himself, has consistency problems and paragraphs after paragraphs are repeated, giving the book a boring touch, unlike the man himself.
There are other inconsistencies like:
But much to our surprise, this unnamed player spilled the beans about our evening to the skipper, Wasim Akram, who became livid on learning that we had ‘broken curfew and stepped out’.
When I joined the team in the mid-1990s and the 2000s, we had a partying culture. Wasim bhai and Moin Khan were the leaders of the pack. We were expected to go out and not return to our rooms.
Afridi devotes a chapter (35- The Tardy Endings) how he wanted a farewell match and laments the then chairman PCB for opposing the idea initially and then not coming in the field for a handshake. The great players like SA should be honored at exit but I can not forget how he was unfair to Shoaib Akhtar in his last ODI match. Shoaib was not allowed to play the game and it was heart wrecking for his fans like me.
The famous Pakistani batsman Muhammad Yousaf reverted to Islam during his time in the Pakistan cricket time. The book uses the term christened for converting to Islam, though it was in fact dechristening of him.
. . . and then there was the Waqar group, which had Yousuf Youhana (later christened to Mohammad Yousuf) and the likes . . .
Many a times the book uses the term ‘god’ for ordinary people, cricketers. Perhaps SA is too much influenced by Indian lingo to describe their cricketers. Being Muslim, we believe in just one God, Almighty Allah. Whatever a prayer may be, the adjectives describing his greatness must not use the word ‘god’, even if it is with small ‘g’.
. . . However, for me, one of the gods of the game had fallen . . .
SA blames politics in Pakistan cricket and how he was – despite being a senior – not given captaincy. That is, the time when Shoaib Malik was made a captain. It is difficult to imagine how he was not himself part of the politics to make hurdles for more senior players.
SA plans not to allow outdoor games for his daughter which is a good thing. He commends praise when he accepted the marriage arranged for him by his parents. The courage of SA to step out of his hotel and help the injured after a bomb blast on French Engineers, near the Karachi Sheraton hotel, is also a work of a hero. As any fan would have guessed, he played well when he really had to play well . Only if he had taken each match of his career so seriously!
Wish Shahid best of luck with his future endeavers.