The universal cricketing philosophy suggests that the qualities like class, perseverance, technique and flexibility make a first-rate cricketer. But then the world has witnessed a few names that climbed up in the sport despite doing the opposite of those qualities. There was the West Indian Viv Richards, India’s Virender Sehwag and Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi; who chose a carefree style of the game and in return provided an ultimate entertainment for their fans. They had the potential to spread panic in the opposition’s camp when they took the crease.
As they say, age is temporary, but Afridi is permanent. In the 21-year-old career, Afridi was an optimum slogger across formats. Afridi, who was supposed to be the white-ball specialist, had horrible averages on his ODI and T20I charts. Although he was not regarded amongst the dependable players in the team; one cannot deny that on a good day, the opposition could do little to stop the batting beast.
If an inconsistency was not enough, the ‘egoistic’ Afridi ensured his career would eventually be declared as the most dramatic after he quits the game.
The ‘retirement king’ as Afridi is famously called had an unusual record of retirements followed by withdrawals within a short span of time. Afridi became the latest veteran to bring the curtains down in his illustrious international career. But the question is, has ‘Shahid bhai’ finally decided to call it quits or the world might see another innings of his in the future? You never know!
Here are 9 interesting facts that make the Pakistani legendary all-rounder one of a kind:
Afridi tribe: Sahibzada Mohammad Shahid Khan Afridi was born on March 1, 1980 in Khyber Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Pakistan. His family hails from the Afridi tribe of Pashtuns. He was the only Pakistani cricketer from the Afridi tribe before Umar Gul made his national debut.
Sweet-16: Afridi became the joint second youngest Pakistani cricketer to make his ODI debut. His first-ever ODI came against Kenya but he did not get to bat. History awaited him in his second ODI. At the age of 16 and 217 days, Afridi became the youngest cricketer to score an ODI ton and still holds the record.
The teenager had also broken the record of the fastest ODI century by reaching the feat in just 37 balls. However, that current fastest ODI centurion is AB de Villiers, who took just 31 balls.
The Tendulkar connection: Afridi’s record of fastest ODI ton is a famous accomplishment, but not everybody is aware of the fact that the young boy broke the record using the Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar’s bat. “Sachin had given the bat to ‘Wicky Bhai’ [Waqar Younis] and had asked him to get a similar bat made in Sialkot for him [Tendulkar],” Afridi revealed in one of the interviews.
The renowned slogger: Afridi was a mercurial player. There was no doubt that he had an ability to take away the game from the opposition in a couple of balls but performances like that were a rarity in his career. His numbers are the testimony to the fact that consistency in his case was far-fetched.
What made him different was despite suffering from a poor form most of the times, he was brave enough to not change his playing style. In all the 21 years, he was a slogger, always going for the big shots—be it at any point of the game. Despite having 8000+ ODI runs, he has one of the worst ODI averages – 23.57. Afridi has the second most number of ducks in the format -30 and he stands fifth in the T20Is with eight ducks.
Boom Boom Afridi: For the reason that he stuck to his slogging game, he ended his career with an excellent record of most number of sixes in the ODIs. He smashed 351 balls into the stands; the number is way ahead of the current playing players – Dhoni (204) and AB de Villiers (188).
The retirement saga: If numbers are not your genre, Afridi’s love affair with retirements will surely be in your memory forever. It began in 2006 when Afridi had hung his boots in Tests. It took him two weeks to take a U-turn and return to the longest format. However, he eventually retired from Test cricket in 2010.
After India knocked Pakistan out of 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had sacked Afridi as ODI skipper, thereby hurting the vibrant man’s ego. He was not hesitant to accuse the cricket board of conspiring against him before he retired from all formats. And yet again, he was back to Pakistani colours in five months.
The retirement news surfaced again in 2012 when Afridi struggled to find form before he bowed out of ODIs after the 2015 World Cup. Four years later in 2016, when Pakistan faced an early exit from World T20, he hinted a final retirement, but instead, he had just stepped down as Pakistan’s T20I skipper.
The end of the era arrived in February 2017 when Afridi finally retired from international cricket.
Main Hoon Shahid Afridi: The movie was a Pakistani Sports drama film, a tribute to the legend where the man himself made a cameo appearance. He is the only cricketer from Pakistan whose life has been an inspiration for filmmakers.
Afridi called himself a better bowler for a reason: He has ended his career by leading the chart of the most number of wickets in T20Is. He grabbed 97 scalps in 98 games, ahead of teammates Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal.
Arguably one of the best Pakistan had: Afridi remains Pakistan’s cricketer to bag the most number of Player of the Match awards in ODIs (32) and T20Is. In fact, Afridi’s 11 awards in T20Is keep him on the top of the chart, ahead of World No. 1 Virat Kohli, who has eight awards so far.