I had earlier (here) pointed out some of the search engine phrases that have led people to this blog. One search string that continues to send a few people here every day is “Shahid Afridi video”. So I decided to check out the videos available on Shahid Afridi.
Afridi no doubt is an explosive batsman. Even though I find him extremely unelegant, he surely is a very powerful hitter of the cricket ball. No surprises then that a lot of videos are about his exploits with the bat — world’s fastest century, world’s second fastest century (against India), 27 runs in a single over against New Zealand, 4 consecutive sixes off Harbhajan Singh etc. In a way it is only natural that these should be popular videos on the Internet. The kinds that Pakistanis and others — interested in cricket but neutral towards him — would send as email forwards to their friends. Just like we receive videos of spectacular goals scored in football every now and then.
This phenomenon of sports video forwards follows two conditions: 1.) the act has to be spectacular enough, and 2.) the length of the video has to be short enough so as to enable forwarding it across varied bandwiths.
Shahid Afridi videos often meet both these criteria. On the other hand, Lara’s innings of 375 or 400, no doubt spectacular, do not meet the second criterion. Similarly, the recent match between Australia and South Africa where both teams scored in excess of 400, while meeting the first criterion, does not meet the second. On the other hand Kumble’s 10-wicket haul, or Irfan Pathan’s hat-trick, or some of the dream leg-spin deliveries from Shane Warne meet both criteria.
But the video I want to share with you is of the ugly side of Afridi. And believe me, he has more than his quota of controversies — not the kind where the player ends up getting a lot of sympathy as well (a la Shoaib Akhtar — a confirmed chucker, who some see as a victim of race politics in international cricket) — but the kind that should cloud every sensible cricket follower’s impression of Afridi.
Click on the video below, wait for it to stream, proceed to the remainder of this post, come back to see the downloaded clip.
The first controversy surrounding Afridi had to do with his age. At the time of his debut (where he scored the world’s fastest century) he was reported to be seventeen. A lot of commentators doubted that. The most famous comment (which sadly I haven’t been able to reference) coming from Geoffery Boycott, who said something to the effect ‘…if he is 17, I am 21…’.
We know that a lot of players indulge in what has fashionably been defended as ‘gamesmanship’. Bodyline, negative line, ball tampering, and sledging are all manifestations of it. However, one of the worst examples of this was Shahid Afridi in the match between India and Pakistan in the 2003 cricket world cup in South Africa. In the course of his bowling spell (which as I had previously mentioned, includes a fair amount of chucking) he had an appeal turned down by the umpire. Afridi then hurled out the choicest of abuse towards the umpire. In this age of pitch microphones and close-up shots, everybody in the sub-continent would have heard and understood what he had just said. And it was disgusting especially now that cricket is a family sport.
Luckily, my friend Kapil Rampal didn’t just nod his head in disapproval, and continue watching the game. He immediately wrote to the ICC officials. Read here, what happened.
Afridi is no Miandad. Not that I anymore have any respect for Miandad as well — after I had seen pictures of him socialising with criminals like Iqbal Mirchi a little after the Mumbai blasts; and recently his son marrying Dawood Ibrahim’s daughter. And those who try and defend this behaviour using words like ‘combative’, ‘aggressive’, ‘street-fighter’, should really draw the line somewhere.
But the most ‘illustrious’ moment of Afridi’s ‘combative’ brand of cricket was when he was caught deliberately tampering the pitch with his boots while everyone was distracted by a blast in the stands in 2005, during a match between England and Pakistan. See the clip above to understand the ‘combative’ nature of this cricketer.
Like abhorring the use of products and services that involve some form of unacceptable input — child labour, cruelty to animals, harmful chemicals etc. — I have also given up on appreciating hard-hitting batting from this cricketer because of his integrity, or rather the lack of it.