Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here

Home > Features >

The curious case of Shahid “Benjamin Button” Afridi

The curious case of Shahid

Shahid Afridi’s role as the cherished enfant terrible of cricket remains unchallenged © Getty Images

His dashing, angelic looks make him more of a Dorian Gray, but in truth it’s hard not to think of Shahid Afridi as the Benjamin Button of One-day International (ODI) batting, given the splendour with which he began his career and the hair-pulling frustration that some of his recent immature knocks have produced.

 

Wednesday’s stump-splaying dismissal to James Anderson was yet another piece of reckless self and team immolation that fans of both Pakistan and Hampshire have become increasingly familiar with over the past year or so. Just how boring can batting for your nation be that a 31-year old man gets twitchy so easily?

 

No one can doubt Afridi isn’t still deserving of his famous nickname, but it has become increasingly open to rather less flattering interpretation: BOOM! Get the front foot out of the way. BOOM! Get the bat out of the way with a medieval hoick. What follows is usually a rattling sound, then a slightly sheepish look, but rarely any admonishments from team mates or coaching staff. This is odd considering the abrogation of responsibility for such an experienced player, but in all seriousness, who’s to say this turning a blind eye isn’t just another part of Misbah-ul-Haq’s man-management genius?

 

In recent years Afridi has tended to bat down the order and we might suggest that scores between 20 and 40 are the ones which are so vital for a player in that position looking to finish an innings. If you look at the slightly rudimentary chart below, you can see from the white gaps for that range in the final third of Afridi’s career just how much his scoring has tailed off in this regard. We must take into account the pressure of chasing or even setting a target, of course, along with the difficulties posed by an older ball and likely more defensive field settings regardless of power play factors, but in the last five years when coming in between six and eight, Afridi has also only finished not out on eight occasions in the 61 innings he’s batted. In fact, he’s only been not out when batting 6-8 on one occasion since late 2009. That’s a long way from Michael Bevan.

The other element which tends to magnify Afridi’s current lack of patience is that his successor as skipper, the Brearley of the Emirates, has built the team’s present success on very much keep calm and carry on basis where Ajmalesque individualism is allowed to prosper but Azhar Ali’s brand of resolute, dogged obstinacy is equally vaunted. It’s hard to imagine Ali producing that sort of Third Test innings under an Afridi captaincy. I know I’m swinging across formats like Afridi does the line, but I think the point holds. 

 

His hair. The star celebrations. The mesmeric late dippers. Even, despite the above, on rare occasions his batting. All these mean Afridi’s role as the cherished enfant terrible of cricket remains unchallenged, but given how little we actually get to see of him out in the middle with some willow in his hands, wouldn’t it be lovely if, in this regard, he just grew up a bit? 

 

(James Marsh is a TEFL teacher based in the Czech Republic, although his real occupation is alienating those close to him by wallowing on statsguru. He blogs on cricket at Pavilion Opinions and can be found on Twitter at @PavilionOpinion)

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 24, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 25, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 25, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 26, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 26, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

More

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 23, 2014  at Dubai

Chennai Super Kings won by 7 runs

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 22, 2014  at Sharjah

Kings XI Punjab won by 72 runs

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 21, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Chennai Super Kings won by 93 runs

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 20, 2014  at Sharjah

Kings XI Punjab won by 7 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014  at Dubai

Delhi Daredevils won by 4 wkts

Photos

CSK vs DD, IPL 2014 Match 8 at Abu Dhabi

Videos

IPL: Tanmay Mishra talks shows the contents of his kit

Sachin Tendulkar — One of the hardest terms to optimise for any SEO professional

Sachin Tendulkar changed the fortunes of cricket journalists in India

Sachin Tendulkar — the greatest batsman of India

Sachin Tendulkar: A timeless fairytale

Sachin Tendulkar: The child, the father, but sexy? Not quite

Chennai Super Kings Delhi Daredevils Glenn Maxwell India IPL IPL 7 IPL 2014 Kings XI Punjab KXIP vs SRH KXIP vs SRH 2014 MS Dhoni Rajasthan Royals RR vs CSK 2014 Sanju Samson Sunrisers Hyderabad

IPL 7: Glenn Maxwell motivated by criticism from Australian coach Darren Lehmann

IPL 2014: Lakshmipathy Balaji believes sticking to basics is very important

IPL 7: Mohit Sharma happy to bowl alongside Ben Hilfenhaus and Ashish Nehra

Sachin Tendulkar turns 41, celebrating birthday away from cricket field

IPL 2014 set to break all records

Happy birthday! A bouquet of CricketCountry’s best Sachin Tendulkar features

Sachin Tendulkar – The century of centuries in tweets

Sachin Tendulkar — One of the hardest terms to optimise for any SEO professional

Sachin Tendulkar changed the fortunes of cricket journalists in India

Happy Birthday, Sachin Tendulkar — The lesser known records

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

622 Posts | 7 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli's 77 during India vs Sri Lanka ICC World T20 2014 final at Dhaka

Apple Q2 2014 earnings: 43.7 million iPhones, 16.3 million iPads sold

Lok Sabha Elections 2014: Aamir Khan appeals everyone to vote

Apple iPhone sales in India grew 55% year-on-year

Lok Sabha Elections 2014: Tens of thousands gather for Modi nomination

Police raids BJP leader Giriraj Singh’s home to arrest him

Happy birthday! A bouquet of CricketCountry’s best Sachin Tendulkar features

Varun Dhawan, happy birthday!

IPL 7: Mohit Sharma happy to bowl alongside Ben Hilfenhaus and Ashish Nehra

Also on cricketcountry.com