By Raja Yousuf
While there are several serious issues brewing in Pakistani cricket, perhaps the worst is that senior cricketers have started quarreling over comments passed by each other, adding spice to cricket talk shows and thereby creating chaos.
Pakistan finally managed to win a series against South Africa for the first time. They managed to win the hearts again of Pakistani cricket lovers, and at the same time Misbah-ul-Haq won appreciation from critics too.
Sadly, Shahid Afridi’s batting raised a lot of questions throughout the series, especially since he plays careless shots despite playing over 369 One-Day Internationals (ODIs).
Sitting on a TV talk show, Sikander Bakht, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Yousuf chastised Afridi for underperforming in the South Africa series. Afridi took it upon himself to lash out at the former players with comments like, “I don’t care about what they say. But the way some of these experts behave and act is as if the team never lost in their time. To me, comments from Heckle and Jeckle and Mr Bean don’t make a difference.”
The comments made at the airport after his return to Pakistan sparked even more controversy. Replying to Afridi’s comments, Yousuf said, “I have said it before…he is still like a child and immature. I will repeat again: youngsters should not make Afridi their role model. I just say what is true and if Afridi is upset about it I don’t care because everyone knows about his behaviour.”
Akhtar, in particular, was furious and went on Geo saying Afridi had shown the difference between an educated and an illiterate person.
“I am surprised that he has not grown up. He has played for Pakistan through his 360 ODIs…still he has gained no maturity. He should look at his performance — sometimes he says I am not a bowler and then he says I am not a batsman, Are you playing for Karachi Gymkhana or Pakistan? I am only talking about what happened in the ground. I don’t want to open my mouth but I know which players sold Pakistan cricket, and when.”
Afridi’s century from 37 balls against Sri Lanka in 1996 made him a hero, yet he is considered an unreliable batsman despite having played 300 matches. Though his bowling has improved a great deal, he is counted as an all-rounder who needs to score also. On 20 ODIs this year, Afridi has scored just 375 runs at 22.05 and taken 22 wickets at 32.18.
This is the third time Afridi has created a spectacle at the airport after returning from an international tournament. He should look up to India’s MS Dhoni as an example. Dhoni won the World Cup 2011 for his country and he is counted among the world’s best captains, but if today his team loses a match, the media does not spare him. Yet, he retains his cool and composure.
Afridi’s response to the comments of Yousuf and Akhtar is a reflection of the current state of the Pakistan team. When you cannot face criticism pointed towards your performance, you cannot progress.
The best answer to any criticism is with compelling performances. If a player is under pressure or if fingers are pointed at him, the best way is to focus on your weak points, work to overcome them. In short, Afridi needs to do rethink about his personality and performance.
Respect cannot be demanded, it has to be earned.
Also on cricketcountry.com