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)

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 22, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Dambulla

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 23, 2014 (08:50 IST)   at Sydney

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 23, 2014 (12:00 IST)   at Chittagong

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah


Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 87 runs

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Melbourne

Australia won by 3 wkts

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 20, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled(Match rescheduled to 21/11/2014)

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 19, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled


Australia vs South Africa, 3rd ODI at Canberra


SL vs Eng: Buttler practices wicketkeeping in nets

PCB’s biggest challenge is to bring back international cricket to Pakistan: Subhan Ahmad

Tim Southee’s 50 Test sixes and related records

India vs Australia 2014: India may have heavy dose of pace in store in 1st Test

Ross Taylor’s crucial knock against Pakistan will boost his sub-par subcontinent record

Stuart Binny — can the all-rounder be a trump card for India in ODIs?

Australia Australia vs South Africa Australia vs South Africa 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand tour of UAE 2014 New Zealand vs Pakistan New Zealand vs Pakistan 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs New Zealand Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of Australia 2014 South Africa vs Australia South Africa vs Australia 2014

Colin Ingram joins Glamorgan under Kolpak ruling

Assad Fudadin replaces Darren Bravo in West Indies Test squad for South Africa tour

George Bailey does not expect Test recall for series against India

Kumar Sangakkara asked to review retirement plans: Reports

Brian Lara: West Indies have to handle issues well

World Cup 1979: Mike Hendrick blows Pakistan away

Shakib Al Hasan becomes 12th player to hit ODI century and take four wickets in same match

Narendra Modi and Tony Abbott take cricket diplomacy to a new level

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014: Highest chases against New Zealand in Test matches

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014: Pakistan’s biggest fourth innings chases

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

681 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli vs Australian cricketers

WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat among the most unsecured mobile messaging apps out there

Microsoft Lumia 535 likely to launch in India on November 26

How many calories do bananas have?

Here’s how Gautam Rode injured himself on the sets of Mahakumbh – Watch video!

8 reasons to add rosemary to your diet

Kumkum Bhagya: Pragya walks out of the house after proving her innocence

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here