I came home late on Sunday, plonked into a chair and started watching the match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Malik had just got dimissed by Mendis, and Afridi struts in. He gets ready to face his first ball in the next over, which is gonna be bowled by Jayasuriya. Something tells me that he’s gonna try to slog this rather than keeping it down, and he proves me right! Tries to hit it over mid – on, but finds the safe hands of Chamara Silva.
Frankly, I’m quite baffled as to why Afridi plays shots like that. It’s understandable if someone like Muralitharan played a shot like that because, first of all, no sensible person’s gonna expect him to hit a 50, and, second of all, he doesn’t take batting seriously in the nets.
But the same can’t be said of Afridi. We all know what a sweet timer of the ball he is, and, frankly, there was a time when I would stop any work I was doing and jump over to the TV to watch him smashing the ball out of the park! But sadly, none of that has been happening in the recent past.
Geoffrey Boycott, former England test player, recently said on Cricinfo that “Shahid Afridi has the best hand-eye co-ordination that I have ever seen, but, sadly, he doesn’t have a cricketing brain”. During that match, Arun Lal said “For some reason, you just expect him to play a shot like that, and the sparkle in Jayasuriya’s and Jayawardene’s eyes just tells you that they expected him to play that shot”!
Waqar Younis added some fire to the debate, saying that “players like Afridi are guaranteed of a place in the team, and this is what makes players like them complacent”.
Geoff Lawson spoke of dropping him for today’s match against India, but he managed to sneak a place into the team. It is a known fact that the Pakistan selectors select the final XI for a home match, and, a selector who didn’t want to be named, said that “we just expect him to do something today”.
Patience is wearing thin, and there aren’t a lot of happy faces around regarding Afridi, and he may get the axe if he doesn’t perform today.
However, a better way to deal with Afridi is to pick him in the side as a ‘leggie who can bat a bit’. His bowling seems to have improved a lot since the T20 WC last year, and, moreover, this would give the selectors and the captain the chance of choosing another batsman and solving the problem of a good spinner for the side. It allows him to concentrate on his bowling, and we don’t have to fret about his batting. If he doesn’t score, no probs, but, if he does…..