Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Final Observations

I have been a longtime critic of Shahid Afridi and I’d like to think for good reason (I'm sure Q would disagree and he and I have had countless conversations on this topic). Flamboyance is always fun to watch and can be very entertaining to say the least but it is not synonymous with talent. I don’t care much for the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and I didn’t for the likes of Afridi.

Pakistani cricket has raw talent coming out of its ears but what it hasn’t always had is the ability to harness that talent, consistency, and a plan. I don’t need to go into the details of these points (unless someone specifically wants me to) because I think they well known and documented. Pakistan noticeably exhibited this short-coming in 1999 and continued to do so increasingly as the veterans retired and were replaced by young “raw” talent.

I also felt that under the leadership of Inzamam, the team did not really become as athletically inclined as it did religiously inclined. Coming back to Afridi again – the man scored well IF he ever scored… and his bowling was quite wayward. He was seen encouraging other players on the field but that always seemed very hollow to me. Also feel that moral support should not be the primary reason to keep a player in the team.

I understand that T20 is not the same as One Day Internationals or Tests but for the first time, I feel Afridi exhibited forbearance. This happened throughout the 2009 T20 World Cup. He wasn’t the highest scorer or the highest wicket taker but he was a match winner on more than one occasion. But it goes beyond match winning - as far as I’m concerned, it needs to be consistent match winning. Like the days of Sachin Tendulkar’s opening stance. If Sachin opened well for India, they usually went on to win the game- and he opened well quite often!

So what was it that a Cricket nobody like me found so interesting? The first was that Afridi’s forbearance (batting) and ingenuity (bowling) came increasing into light as the tournament progressed. I saw a plan and I saw craft. He could have lived up to his title as early as the 15th over in the final match but he didn’t. He didn’t even attempt to hit it out of the park in the manner that he normally does.

One can easily extrapolate this for the entire team. With the exception of Shahzaib Hasan (who in my opinion is a poor substitute for Salman Butt), the team came out with a plan from the first ball Mohammed Amir bowled that day. Furthermore, one could have almost expected this plan because the South Africa game seemed well thought out too (but not quite as well as the S.L. game).

Shahid Afridi is turning into a thinking Cricketer. A team player who understands that even moderation has a place in the fast pace T20 framework (I won't go into details of the match; Ithink his performance is well etched in most people's minds). Just as important is the fact that he belongs to a team that knows when to bowl short versus full length (with a slight divergence by Gul in the last few overs). More importantly for him, he is fast becoming a player with a good temperament, potentially mature head on his shoulders and a repertoire in both the bowling and batting departments that could see him through to become one of the best all-rounders in his generation.

Make your pitch on this post...



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5 Pitched:

  1. raj said...
     

    There he goes foot in the mouth again.
    Q, this is why he isnt the right man for the job. What kind of statement was that - a team that didnt want to play you thumped you? So what does that make of you then?
    This and the completely anti-team statements on VVS plus the lamenting for Man of tournament show he is not a total team player. Not fit for captain.
    Harsh from me, but you've g

  2. Superunknown said...
     

    Afridi isnt a mature candidate for skipper. i was shocked to hear him saying he deserved mOS award in WT20 in 2009.

    i agree with Raj here :)

    he is totally misfit for being a skipper. he choses his own tournaments. T20, he is there. Tests, he is not there.

    what kinda commitment for national team is this ?

  3. Q said...
     

    Raj, Sam,

    About the man of the series thing..

    Well when the player of the tournament was given to Dilshan, a lot of people wondered why it did not go to Afridi. A lot of Pakistanis in fact, including me. I even wrote that in my post abt the final. As did Jrod for that matter.

    170 runs, 11 wickets, and a performance that wins ur team the title is surely a player of the tournament performance.

    I also got an sms after the final from a disgruntled guy who said that it looked pre-decided and it did not matter that dilshan failed in the final but Afridi took his team to the title.

    Since that was the sentiment in Pakistan, reporters asked Afridi how he felt abt it. And his response was that he was also surprised not to get it.

    He answered with what he felt. He's not ur modest guy who would say "it doesn't matter, Dilshan deserved it etc etc"..

    Thats how he is and he said it.

    I don't see anything wrong with that.

    As for the statement about Indians not being interested in playing against Pakistan, I have no idea why he felt that or said that. Doesn't make sense to me.

  4. Q said...
     

    Raj,

    Regarding VVS, again Afridi was asked by a reporter who was a better captain - VVS or Gilchrist.. and Afridi gave his honest opinion that it was Gilchrist and why..

    Again he didn't choose to say that..

  5. Q said...
     

    Sam,

    "he choses his own tournaments. T20, he is there. Tests, he is not there."

    That is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. In Afridi's 13-year career he has never missed even a match due to injury, let alone a series.

    He has not been selected for tests for 3 years now as he was never regarded as a test player.

    Even if he was fit now, I'm not sure if the selectors would have selected him for the tests against SL.

    The last ball of the final hit him on the ankle and he also got treatment for that while he was in London. And is under treatement in Khi now.

    He has never picked and chosen his matches.. he has played every single one he has been selected for.

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