Cricket

'Boom Boom' makes quiet exit

2011-05-30 21:57
Shahid Afridi (File)

Karachi - Huge-hitting Shahid Afridi makes such a noise on the field that they call him "Boom Boom", but the crowd-pleaser is leaving the game quietly after clashing with Pakistan's cricket hierarchy.

The imposing all-rounder, who bowls dangerous leg-spin and smashes sixes for fun, is widely regarded as one of limited-overs cricket's most destructive batsmen, and Pakistan's foremost player.

But Afridi, 31, announced his retirement late on Monday after a row with coach Waqar Younis which saw him stripped of the one-day captaincy, despite taking scandal-hit Pakistan to the World Cup semi-finals in March.

"I play for my country and for my people," he said. "I led the team to the semi-final of the World Cup but the reward was such that I was not sure about my captaincy."

Although he left the door open for a possible return - if the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) undergoes wholesale changes - it seems likely that cricket has lost one of its most exciting and passionate talents.

The bearded Afridi, born in the Khyber Agency bordering Afghanistan, cracked the world's fastest one-day century in his first ever international innings, and holds the world record for one-day international sixes - 289.

In Pakistan, Afridi is so exciting and so popular that once he is out, stadiums can empty out. And uniquely, he completes the package with uncanny spin bowling and brilliant fielding.

The story starts in 1996, when Afridi, aged just 16, hammered a 37-ball century past Kenya in his international batting debut, after not being required to bat in the series opener two days earlier.

The knock made world headlines but there was no place for Afridi in Pakistan's powerful batting line-up as they finished World Cup runners-up to Australia three years later in 1999.

Four years later in South Africa, he continued to warm the bench before things got even worse in 2007.

A month before the World Cup, Afridi was banned for two matches on charges of threatening to hit a spectator during a one-day match in South Africa.

He ended up watching Pakistan lose to Ireland from the sidelines before playing an inconsequential match against Zimbabwe.

But in 2009, Afridi starred in Pakistan's World Twenty20 win with crucial - and uncharacteristically responsible - knocks in the semi-final against South Africa and the final against Sri Lanka.

He took over as Test and one-day captain last year, but abruptly retired from the five-day game after a heavy defeat against Australia at Lord's. He later said he "sensed" the spot-fixing scandal which was to engulf the team.

"When I retired from Test cricket and sensed spot-fixing in the team, I fought against it, and after the fixing episode (I) united the team which was broken and divided," he said on Monday.

His success in galvanising the squad could be seen at this year's World Cup, when he led Pakistan to the semi-finals only to be beaten by eventual champions India.

But after the tournament he publicly criticised Younis over his interference in team selection, prompting his replacement as one-day skipper by Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq.

According to former captain Imran Khan, Afridi has shown unique motivational skills, along with his well-documented batting and bowling exploits.

"Afridi is the only man who can motivate and unite the team," Khan, a World Cup-winning skipper in 1992, said during this year's tournament.

"He can win matches single-handedly."

Wasim Akram, Pakistan's captain during the 1999 World Cup, highlighted Afridi's resilience as one of his greatest assets.

"It's remarkable that his best comes when the going gets tough," Akram said.

Afridi scored 6 695 runs in 325 one-dayers and took 315 wickets as a leg-spinner. He has a tally of 1,716 runs and 48 wickets in 27 Tests.

Read more on:    pakistan cricket  |  shahid afridi
NEXT ON SPORT24X

Spin factor pleases Ashwin

2014-09-01 20:36

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Featured Blog

Dave ask if you would like to meet your local sports heroes and stand the chance to win prizes to the value of over R40 000.

Latest blogs
Vote

Which cricketer is currently of most value to the Proteas' Test team?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.