Essay On Shahid Afridi In English

There might be a bomb on the field. No one knows.

There is no real grass, and most wouldn't call it a field. Just stones, dirt and agricultural troughs, with a concrete strip for playing on and a bunch of young men who want to play some cricket.

One of them walks around the ground looking for potential IEDs. He isn't wearing ballistic protection, he's not behind a mine-resistant armoured vehicle, and he's not controlling a bomb-defusing robot from a safe distance. He is wearing his cricket clothes, a blue Afghan Tigers top and a cap.

He is not supposed to be working today; he is supposed to be taking time off from his job as a translator for the US Marines. But there are no days off in Afghanistan.

This attack, if there is one, is not from some unknown enemy. The IED will have been planted by a fellow countryman, perhaps even someone he knows. To kill him or anyone in the game.

That someone wants to kill him is not a new thing: this is his life.

****

The Hindu Kush mountains are hard. Ice, rocks and trees. You don't travel through them, you travel around them.

He is a true Pashtun, from south of the Hindu Kush. When his family cross the border into Pakistan, he is a refugee who cannot crawl but is already on the run

A 39-day-old baby is being carried around them. It is 1987, or maybe 1986. He is sick the entire journey and never leaves his mother's arms. His family consists of his grandparents, his father, his uncle and his sister. They travel in a convoy with other villagers who are also making their way to safety in Pakistan.

The village they are leaving is Dashti Archi, in Afghanistan's Kunduz province. Not their tribal homeland but territory given to soldiers - among them, the boy's grandfather - by the government for fighting for the country. The boy has two more uncles, both soldiers. The family has not heard from them since they went to fight, and they won't ever again.

At night they move, fearful of the Soviet invaders, and their own people, who might consider them traitors. Behind them the Mujahideen, some of the greatest fighters who ever lived, and died, are resisting the Soviets.

The grandfather, a Mujahideen leader, travels with the family. Before that he and his brothers were in the Afghan army. One way or another, they have always been involved with war. They are Pashtun Ghazi. Warriors.

The baby's name is Mohebullah Archiwal. When his family cross the border into Pakistan, he is a refugee who cannot crawl but is already on the run.

Archi in his Afghan Tigers cricket kit

Archi and his family lived in the Shah Jahan Abed refugee camp tents in Pakistan. What is now Pakistan and Afghanistan were separated formally in 1893, after the British drew a line where they believed King Abdur Rahman Khan's land finished and British India started.

The Pashtuns have been the majority in Afghanistan for generations. The current president of Afghanistan is a Pashtun, as were many of his predecessors. Afghanistan loosely means "land of the Pashtun", and that land is south of the Hindu Kush.

The poet Khushal Khattak once wrote, "Pull out your sword and slay anyone that says Pashtun and Afghan are not one! Arabs know this and so do Romans: Afghans are Pashtuns, Pashtuns are Afghans!" His was the mythology of Afghan men who would stand and fight like no others. Khattak was a warrior poet, who believed all the tribes that made up the Afghans should fight for what was theirs, fight for their land, their mountains, their culture.

That spirit was strong in Archi's family, whose father and grandfather regularly went back and joined their old militia groups across the border to fight the Soviets. Without homes to go to, they would sleep in the mountains at night, and by day wage war for their land.

In Pakistan they were Majar - a Pashto word used mostly for Afghan refugees and not as a compliment. In Afghanistan they were proud warriors of the Mamond tribe.

****

There is a pile of cloth, rope and rubber in front of Archi. He knows what he needs, taking each item carefully from the pile. He tightly packs the materials into a round shape. The tension is all-important. If he makes a mistake, it won't bounce; it will be a failure.

Fox's mother once said that if they bought a plot of land big enough, they'd build a ground for him. That never happened. Her throwaway line became the last goal on his list: to own a cricket field

One of Archi's friends stands by the field where some older boys are playing, waiting for them to discard the tape they are using on their ball. When their tape gets old and frayed, they throw it towards him, he grabs it and runs back to Archi, who carefully wraps it around his invention. His Frankenstein's ball is now ready. All of his friends are excited; they run off to play cricket.

****

Edward Fox is in Wichita, Kansas. He followed a woman there all the way from Australia. There they built a family and he built businesses. Fox is a successful man. He acquires businesses that excite him and then tries to make them better.

He loves his life in Wichita, he loves the wife he moved there for, the children they created, and the part of the world they inhabit. Over a decade earlier - before he made his flight to the US -  he wrote a list of goals. A family was one. Another was living in the US for an extended time. A third was to own property.

There was something else on that list that he never truly left back in Australia: cricket.

When Fox was a kid, he'd play cricket in the backyard. When he batted, he pretended to be Zaheer Abbas. Unlike Abbas, Fox was not tall and thin. He was graceless, he batted at 11, and didn't bowl.

He wanted to play more, do more, learn more. But there was always someone between him and the ground: an older kid, another team, some adults.

Have club-like object, will play: kids in Marawara, all set for a game

His mother once said that if they bought a plot of land big enough, they'd build a ground for him. That never happened. Her throwaway line became the last goal on his list: to own a cricket field.

Fox tried to get the city of Wichita to allocate him a cricket ground. They had shown him a book of parks, and he had picked one he thought was right for him, but they found reasons why that wouldn't work. This happened several times; the city officials never quite bought into his plans.

Since hooking his sons on cricket during a trip back to Australia, Fox had been travelling from school to school in Kansas like a cricket evangelist. He bought over 1000 plastic cricket sets to give out. He started a programme called Hot Shot Cricket, and a cricket Little League. But he needed a field.

This was still Kansas. Cricket was always going to be a hard sell. Fox was used to the fast-paced nature of business; he had no time for government bureaucracy. He said to his wife, "I'm an entrepreneur, dammit. I can build my own field."

He bought 15 acres to live and play cricket on.

He rebuilt a farm into a cricket ground, consulting former pro cricketers on the best kind of cricket pitch. He had training facilities as well, and plans for a pavilion with changing facilities and viewing decks. One day there will hopefully be professional sightscreens to assist the batsmen, an electronic scoreboard, the works.

In the first game on the ground, he and his pre-teen son Jason played together in the "Wichita World XI". They were hopeless. Their wicketkeeper was a 67-year-old New Zealander. They had two Americans who were playing for the first time. And Fox's own skill had not been greatly improved by the ten years he hadn't been playing the game.

Archi's father lived through a war, found work in a new land, and when Archi slipped, even a little bit, he saw that as a slight on all his hard work. For what he saw as a slap to his face, he used a fist to Archi's

But this wasn't about this game, it was about the fact he had created something, achieved his last goal, one of his earliest dreams. He and his wife, the woman who once accidentally took him away from cricket, stood by the boundary, looking at what they had done. So proud, so happy.

****

Cricket is a family heirloom. It is passed down via bloodline from those people in the former empire nations that are obsessed with it. Afghanistan was not obsessed with it; Pakistan was.

The trip over the border was enough for Archi to enter a world of cricket. And with it, be exposed to the contagious strain of Pakistan cricket.

In cricket, there is no beast more captivating than a Pakistani fast bowler. It starts with the run. They run like beautiful predators - like the cheetah you want to catch the springbok. At the crease, there will be a leap. Leap isn't the right word; it is a bound, a caper, an escalation of joy. Then the ball comes out. So fast, and with a mind of its own. The ball is now swinging around in any direction. Left and right, up and down, the definition of chaos.

The batsmen are powerless to resist it. So was Archi. One look at Aaqib Javed, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram was all it took for Archi to be a cricket fanatic, and a Pakistan cricket fan.

In March of 1996, when he was about nine, Archi went back to Afghanistan for the first time. His father and grandfather wanted to move home, so they went back to the Kunar Province, where Archi's family was originally from, to see if it was now safe.

Afghan refugees near the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' office in Peshawar, Pakistan © Getty Images

Archi was happy to go back, but he took a piece of Pakistan with him. A small radio on which he would listen to commentary of Pakistan's important World Cup quarter-final against India.

Aamer Sohail and Saeed Anwar had taken flight at the top of Pakistan's chase, and Archi listened excitedly with his radio to his ear. A local patrolman saw him and walked over. As he got closer he heard the cricket commentary and slapped Archi in the face. "Why are you listening to this game? It is not for Muslims."

Archi didn't respond. He was about ten, but he knew that you don't talk back to the Taliban. The radio was broken. He never heard Pakistan lose.

He ran back to his father to tell him what had happened, and pleaded to go back to Pakistan. His father was firm - "This is our country" - but Archi didn't care. He didn't want to be there if the Taliban was there. Eventually Archi's father and grandfather felt the same, and the family remained in Pakistan.

Archi's father bought daily items in bulk and sold them to village and refugee shops. They weren't rich, but he was a regular provider. His family was very important, not just his wife and kids but his mother, father and his uncles.

Archi's mother was a kind and warm woman. She had two other sons and four daughters. Archi's mother gave him a special position within the family as the oldest son.

At school Archi did very well. He studied English, using books given by UNICEF, and was top of the class early on. His father would offer prizes for when he remained head of the class. But the more pressure he felt, the worse his grades got. He would often stay up all night studying for a test, only for the answers to disappear when he needed them. On those days Archi would be beaten.

Finally Archi was home. He felt like everything was perfect. The security was perfect. The village was perfect. The new roads were perfect. Everyone was so happy. Everyone was so excited

Lots of things would result in beatings. Bad grades. Comments perceived as disrespectful. Fighting with other kids. Other kids saying he beat him. Once a fortnight there would be a reason for him to be beaten by his father.

Archi never understood his father. He didn't know why he was beaten. He didn't talk back, he tried not to cause trouble, he gave his father respect.

His father did not go to school beyond 13. He had no way to better his life, and he sacrificed his future for his sons. He lived through a war, found work in a new land, and when Archi slipped, even a little bit, he saw that as a slight on all his hard work. For what he saw as a slap to his face, he used a fist to Archi's.

One day Archi was playing cricket with the son of one of his father's best friends. Archi knew that he had to respect this boy. He had already learned to always be alert in case there was a reason for him to be beaten. Still, there was a cricket squabble, one of probably a million in the world that day, after he refused to go out and field. The boy ran home to tell his father what had happened. His father told Archi's father.

As Archi walked home, his father met him on the street. "You have disgraced my friend by disrespecting his son," he screamed. He tried to explain that it was nothing, that it didn't matter, but his father wasn't listening. Instead - right in the middle of the street - Archi was beaten.

He woke up the next day, stumbled towards the mirror and saw himself covered in blood. His grandmother told him he'd been unconscious since the beating. He smiled. He thought he looked like Shaan Shahid,  his favourite Lollywood star ,  after a final fight with a villain.

Soldiers hold a bridge in Marawara © Getty Images

The bloodied boy who looked back at Archi from the mirror had more than his consciousness beaten out of him. His love for his father, and some of his self-worth and his hope for a better life had been beaten out of him.

****

Late in 1996 a 16-year-old Pakistani batted for the first time. Less than an hour later he had broken a record for the quickest hundred runs in cricket. Shahid Afridi was - is - something special.

There is a natural conservatism bred into cricket batsmen. From a young age they know one bad decision can end their day. You protect your stumps, keep the ball on the ground, and grab caution from the wind. Afridi didn't do that. His way of batting was to throw everything he had at every ball, like a religious zealot, believing that something, someone, would save him, that destiny was on his side. It made him an inconsistent cricketer. It made him an idol.

He has the spirit, energy and predatory nature of a Pakistani fast bowler, but he also has a massive club that he swings around recklessly. His batting isn't violent, it's fun and cheeky. He's a drunken samurai, the greatest flawed action movie star. Once you're hooked on Afridi, there is no going back.

To Archi, to all the young Afghan boys in Pakistan, Afridi was something more. He's Pashtun. When he spoke Pashtu, in a beautiful singsong dialect different from theirs, they loved him even more. Young Afghan cricket fans didn't just relate to Shahid Afridi, they wanted to be him.

After that hundred, every time Archi picked up a bat, he was Afridi. But Archi couldn't go back to his country, and even if he did, Afghanistan had no team. He couldn't make plans, he was just dreaming. He wanted people to know who he was, he wanted to play cricket and he wanted to be Shahid Afridi. But he was still a Majar.

****

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban called their dominion in Afghanistan, was ousted from Kabul late 2001.

Rahman's men rested the rockets on rocks or logs, pointing them in the general vicinity, and then launched them. The rockets never hit anyone playing cricket, but the fear was there

Archi's family made their way back home less than three months later. Their trip should have been short, but the roads were not good enough for their truck full of belongings, so they went a long way roundabout to get back home.

Home was Marawara village in Kunar province, five miles from where his grandfather and father were born, and about 13 miles from their refugee camp in Pakistan.

Marawara was surrounded by some farmland, where wheat and poppy were grown. The locals made money by cutting trees in the mountains, soldiering, or working for the government.

Finally Archi was home. He felt like everything was perfect. The security was perfect. The village was perfect. The new roads were perfect. There were soldiers in different uniforms, but nobody was getting hurt and everyone was getting respect. Everyone was so happy. Everyone was so excited.

It was the Afghanistan that his family had fought for.

When Archi was a small boy in the refugee camp, if he got bored he'd visit the local blacksmith, who would sing him silly songs and make funny faces to entertain him. The blacksmith had a son who was Archi's Koran teacher, Qari Ziaur Rahman. As a young man Rahman memorised the Koran, becoming what is called a Hafiz-e-Koran. He was well respected by Archi's family.

Archi in his US Army uniform

Unlike the majority of Afghan refugees, Rahman didn't come back with the fall of the Taliban. He eventually did come back to Afghanistan, where he took a special dislike to Marawara, to its government employees and pro-American ideals. On his radio show, or just by word of mouth, he let the village know it was now a target for him.

Rahman's past is murky. People say he worked for Afghanistan, for Pakistan's ISI (Inter-State Intelligence), Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and even the CIA. By accounts, he was a militant with shifting alliances.

They say Rahman is in charge of a brigade in Al Qaeda's Lashkar al-Zil, the Shadow Army.

The Taliban had a confused relationship with cricket. Some elements within the movement saw it as a pious game, and even promoted cricket while virtually banning all other sport. But the Taliban is not of one mind, and for Rahman the Taliban was just a means for violence.

Rahman sent a letter to the mosque in Marawara, saying that cricket should cease, that it stopped people from praying. He asked that Archi and some others named in the letter come in for a meeting with him.

No one was going to attend a meeting with Rahman. People weren't seen again after meeting him. The cricket continued, but with a checkpoint for security.

Archi saw war as a game. He said he once managed to hold a checkpoint for three months, when usually it changed hands once a week. He kept stats on how often they were attacked

The cricket ground in Marawara was one in name only. The locals had rented the field  from a wheat farmer. Fielding a cricket ball was hard enough, but the dirt surface also had irrigation troughs running through it, meaning that on the rare occasion Archi or his friends hit the ball on the ground, it would fly up randomly and hurt people.

Rahman followed through on the threats in his letter. One day on the field, a player tripped over an IED. Luckily, it didn't work. But the device had been put in a part of the field, cow corner in cricket, where young Afghan players imitating Afridi love to hit the ball.

Archi was one of those who would check the field after that, so the Taliban then changed tack, taking to rockets. They didn't have rocket launchers, so Rahman's men rested the rockets on rocks or logs, pointing them in the general vicinity, and then attached batteries by cable to the underside of the rockets to launch them. The rockets never hit anyone playing cricket, but the fear was there.

****

Farman was Archi's young cousin. He was an oldest son, a happy kid, good at school, loved by everyone.

When Farman joined first grade, he instantly became the top student in his class. Just like Archi. Farman was very confident even as a young boy. Just like Archi. People said that Farman was going to go far. Just like Archi.

Farman was one of those young kids people are drawn to. He looked older than his years. He could have passed for a teen, despite being ten. He looked like the kid with all the answers. He would stroll around Marawara dressed in his leather jacket, as if the whole village wasn't a war zone but some computer game that only he knew the code for. Archi adored Farman.

Farman came running into Archi's home one night, telling everyone he had just won a fight. Archi's grandfather reacted like a Pashtun warrior, praised him on his victory, and told him how proud he was of him. Farman beamed.

Farman, Archi's cousin

Archi took Farman aside to speak to him alone. He explained that going around beating people up wasn't the way. That he had to be smarter, that he had to be better.

Archi was trying to break the cycle. His people, the Mamond Tribe, the Pashtun people, were soldiers, but Farman could be more than that. Archi would never break free, but he still believed Farman could.

One of the few joys Archi had was watching Farman play cricket - and he could play. Once, Farman promised Archi that he would score 50 runs in his honour. He did, and it wasn't just the runs he made but how he made them that shocked Archi. Even as a young boy, Farman had the strength and technique to hit straight sixes. The other local boys, and men (Archi included), slogged across the line. Farman wasn't just a Shahid Afridi warrior with a bat; he had grace, skill and temperament.

He was also Archi's personal shopper and messenger. When Archi fell for a girl, he would use Farman as his go-between. Despite the age difference, Archi would confide in him. It was his dream to be able to one day send Farman to London. To study, and escape.

****

Archi signed up to be a soldier for the Afghan army in 2006. He did so in part to honour his family but also because he had no job, his education had been stopped, and his world was at war.

Four months of training and he was on a bus to Kandahar province. His battalion was supposed to be crossing from Helmand into Kandahar. They had sent out scouts before their move, Archi said, and there had been suspicious activity on the road they planned to use. In one village everyone seemed to be packing up to leave, and when asked why, they told the scouts that it was because the Taliban were hiding out nearby.

One day Archi asked his nine-year-old brother to go to the store to get him a drink. On his way back, several men in masks holding guns stopped the boy and asked who he was taking the drink for. When he answered, they slapped him

The American and French forces found an alternative route through the desert, but the Afghan lieutenant colonel refused to travel that way, saying it would take three hours longer and the rough journey might ruin his equipment.

When the Afghans' convoy entered the village, they were attacked. Archi arrived in the village the day after the attack. With no chance of an air strike, his battalion was trapped for three days.

Archi's job included negotiating ransoms for the bodies of the deceased. There were over 20 dead soldiers. No one counted the dead Taliban.

Archi saw war as a game. He said he once managed to hold a checkpoint for three months, when usually it changed hands once a week. He kept stats on how often they were attacked. And when the Taliban rang him before a raid in the hope he would turn and run, he said he would goad them like a boxer at a weigh-in. He quickly became a sergeant.

For him, the dark side of the war wasn't death but corruption. Once, when he was in charge of a checkpoint, a suicide bomber made it all the way through security. Archi knew he had been let through by other soldiers, who he had asked to be transferred out but whom his commander had decided to put in the most important positions.

When he discussed the corruption with his father, even he thought that maybe Archi should quit. But Pashtuns don't quit. To them a quitter is a quitter for life.

A game of cricket in Marawara

One night the Taliban attacked one of their checkpoints. The soldiers protecting it fled without a fight, leaving not only the checkpoint in Taliban hands but also an SPG-82 rocket launcher and 60 rockets.

It was a terrible mission to try to take the checkpoint back, but Archi put his hand up. As they approached the checkpoint, his lieutenant got scared and fled. The Taliban saw them coming and attacked.

The firefight was messy and unpredictable, but it got worse when bullets started flying at Archi from behind. His lieutenant had gone back to the forward operating base, and to cover for his cowardice he told them that the rest had changed sides and were now fighting with the Taliban.

Archi was now being shot at by two enemies, both Afghan.

Somehow he and his team survived and made it back to their base, where Archi was stopped and shown that he was bleeding. Three bullets had gone through his vest.

A year into his time in the Afghan army, Archi served under Major Diego Davila of the Puerto Rican National Guard. Davila saw some important things in Archi: fearlessness, serenity in the face of danger, and good spoken English. Archi also spoke Urdu, Dari, Farsi and Pashto. He was the ideal candidate to be a translator for the Americans.

The sort of money Archi was earning - about  $1000 a month - made them quite wealthy in their village, and they were able to build a house far better than they ever could on a normal Afghan wage

Davila wrote Archi a letter of introduction, and soon he was a translator for the 82nd Airborne army division.

Archi liked the Americans better than he did his own army. He felt there was no corruption, and the soldiers were well trained and had good discipline. And he felt like by working for them, he could save the lives of even more of his countrymen.

His father wasn't as sure. He knew that Archi could do good with the Americans, but he was also naturally suspicious of outsiders. Eventually they came to an understanding that as long as Archi was trying to protect his country, his father would accept it.

It wasn't long into his new job that Archi started hearing, via friends and family, from Rahman. "Mohebullah, son of Habidullah, I remember him. Tell him to quit his job. If he doesn't, one day he will end up under my wing."

Perhaps this should have worried Archi, but it was common for anyone who worked with the Americans to receive threats.

Then there were the phone calls from Rahman to Archi's father directly, asking for Archi to be handed over. But Archi didn't know of these at the time, as his father didn't tell him.

Archi (second soldier from right) at work as a translator for the US forces

One day Archi asked his nine-year-old brother to go to the store to get him a drink. On his way back, several men in masks holding guns stopped the boy. They asked who he was taking the drink for. When he answered, they slapped him and told him to pass a message to Archi: "We'll see you soon." His brother ran home crying.

****

In March 2010, Pakistan's interior minister Rehman Malik announced that Qari Ziaur Rahman was killed in an air strike on Pakistan soil. It was not the first time his death had been announced. Years earlier, when Archi and his family still liked Rahman, there had been rumours of his death. Archi's grandfather had been sad that such a fine upstanding man had been killed.

Around the same time, Rahman had started training and equipping women to hide bombs under burqas for suicide attacks that were near impossible to prevent.

Rahman was captured by the ISI at one point, but instead of being handed over to the Americans and ending up in Guantanamo Bay, he was given back in a prisoner-exchange programme.

Archi wasn't specifically targeted. Rahman and his shadow army used Taliban force and fear to go after anyone who worked for the government or was seen as a US sympathiser. Rahman didn't want Archi to be dead because of a personal grudge - he was just trying to kill or intimidate another non-believer.

Years later Rahman would be announced dead again, and again he would rise to terrorise. Friends, family and colleagues of Archi's disappeared. Rahman was a shadow that brought death.

****

USAID helped build Kabul Cricket Stadium. They brought in cricket gear for schools and cricket clubs, constructed pitches throughout the country, helped with training, and supported the Salam Watander radio network's attempts to broadcast Afghan away games.

In a nation that has survived so much, and has so little to celebrate, their team, who play like 11 Shahid Afridis, brings joy to millions

According to reports, from 2010 until 2014 two USAID programmes spent about US$2.2 million on cricket. Hillary Clinton mentioned the Afghan team in her speeches. The Americans knew that cricket was important in gaining support in Afghanistan.

It wasn't just the Americans either, the Indian and German governments also invested in Afghan cricket.

The problem for Archi and his friends was that the money never made it to Marawara. Archi wanted to build a proper cricket ground. He started junior leagues, he brought prominent US army officials to the ground, he tried to convince the governor of Kunar to help out. But no one gave him any money for it.

Archi had once hoped cricket was his way out. But instead of receiving trophies, he handed them out to the next generation, hoping they would get their chance.

After three years with the 82nd Airborne, he was upgraded to the Marines. At times he also took up contracts with the Italian and Georgian armies. With all of this came a bigger wage.

He wasn't a gambler, he didn't smoke hashish, and as a devout Muslim he wasn't a drinker. Cricket was his only vice. Once he set aside enough to play cricket, help pay for equipment, tractor rental and ground costs, most of his money went to his family. Some went to Farman, but the bulk went to his parents.

US soldiers at the site of a Taliban suicide attack in Kandahar earlier in 2017 © AFP / Getty Images

His parents used the money to build a new house. While his father was a good provider, the sort of money Archi was earning - about  $1000 a month - made them quite wealthy in their village, and they were able to build a house far better than they ever could on a normal Afghan wage. They were very proud of their new home and Archi was proud he could give it to them.

People had always said Archi would go far. But by just serving his country, as his father, uncles and grandfather had done, Archi had managed to make their lives slightly better.

However, being in the Marines also put him into the thick of trouble. Like in June of 2012, when he stood in smoke and dirt with blood in the air.

Archi is bleeding, but he can also see that his fellow soldier, a medic, is much worse. He drags him towards a building, knowing he only has a few seconds. The IED is only ever the start; the bullets quickly follow.

The medic is screaming in pain. Archi shoots back. He radios the squad to tell them that they are both okay, and for them to find whoever is shooting at them. He also calls the Afghan police to get them to bring their truck (the marines' RMV won't fit in the streets and there is nowhere for a chopper to land).

The police station is one mile away, but a deadly mile. When the police truck arrives Archi thinks about jumping in it with the medic, but instead he stays outside to fight with the rest of the squad, who have arrived by then. They survive.

The country and family he had fought for had betrayed him for the last time. Archi no longer wanted to live and die in his country. He didn't want to protect it, he wanted to leave it

Back at the station, Archi sits down, takes a breath and asks if he can go to the hospital now. He has broken his leg, and when they cut away his trousers, he can see bone. The medic loses a ear, and much of his eyesight.

When asked about the incident where Archi got severely injured by an IED, Nat Buesking, who served with Archi said, "Which one?" When he was asked about Archi as a man, he said: "He wasn't my translator, he was my soldier. He was my brother."

Archi wasn't quite like Buesking, though. There was no home to go to after this conflict for him, and because of that, he wanted to die. He couldn't kill himself - that was a coward's way out. He would die on the battlefield, like his ancestors before him, and he didn't care.

****

When Archi was asked to play cricket, he never said no. So when a new side asked him to play in an invitational friendly, he turned up in his blue Afghan Tigers kit and cap. The bowler told Archi to put a helmet on. Archi laughed at him.

The first ball came straight at his face. Archi's arrogance had made him slow, and at the last moment he fell over backwards, saving his face by less than an inch. The next ball, he slashed hard, in true Shahid Afridi style, and away.

The bowler was Mirwais Ashraf, the first Afghanistan cricketer to take a wicket in the World Cup. Archi believed he was as good as Ashraf, maybe better.

An American soldier plays cricket with local kids in Kunar province in 2009 © Getty Images

Archi believes he did get close to selection. He claims he was asked to pay the selectors for a game. When he told them he didn't have much money, he says he was told to take it from the Americans. It was the same corruption he had always known. He never paid, he never played.

Maybe he was never good enough. Perhaps it was just arrogance to think he was good enough to play for the national team. Athletes are rarely the best judges of how far their talent can take them. On the other hand, perhaps he was. And it's possible that he could have played for Afghanistan and even made a career out of it.

When Afghanistan play cricket now, the whole country supports them. In a nation that has survived so much, and has so little to celebrate, their team (who play like 11 Shahid Afridis) brings joy to millions.

But Archi doesn't support them, because he never got a chance to play with them.

****

In July 2013, Archi came back home to Marawara for a few days. It was two days of travel, and that night he stayed up late at the house of a friend who was having a party.

Archi was exhausted and slept in the next morning. Farman arrived before school, waking Archi and asking for some pocket money. Archi gave it to him and then started drifting back to sleep.

Boom.

Here the only running he does is between the wickets. Here the only danger is when he is bowling, and here when something goes boom, it isn't a bomb but a thump off his blade

Archi knew instantly something had exploded. He thought, he hoped, the bomb had gone off at the house of his neighbour, the local policeman. Then he had that empty feeling come over him. He hadn't searched the house in the morning for IEDs. He hoped someone else had done. He raced to the front of the house.

There was a hole in it. A hole meant for him.

Archi staggered barefoot through the wreckage. The whole village ran over to where the smoke was still thick. He got down on his hands and knees, looking for something, anything. All he would find was a finger. There was nothing else left of Farman.

There were no tears from Archi - he was beyond them. He had been a solider with a death wish, and he was prepared to die. But he wasn't prepared for Farman to die because of him.

The funeral was two hours later. Usually it would take longer; they would announce it so that everyone could come and pay their respects. This time they decided not to. The deceased would usually be bathed and be placed on display, but there was nothing to wash or display of Farman. The box was virtually empty.

Still, people sat around it and chanted rhythmically. No one told Archi that it was his fault, but they all stared at him, and he knew.

The big ticket: locals watch the India-Pakistan game at the last World Cup in a Kabul shop © AFP / Getty Images

In Marawara they have a special area in their cemetery for people who die under the age of 30. Since 2003, more than 80 people have been buried there.

****

Archi would never forget Farman - he even started a small cricket tournament in his name - but the Taliban weren't just killing his family, they were killing everyone's family.

He had some leave from his time with the Georgian army. He caught a bus from Farah province to Herat province, waited for a space to open up on a plane piloted by the Americans, flew to Kabul, and waited a day for a bus before finally getting back home to Marawara.

His mother and one of his sisters greeted him. He expected a warm hug, food and love. His mother slapped him.

She had never slapped him before. Or anyone. She had never raised a hand, or even her voice, before. She had, no matter what, always respected him, even when his father did not.

Now she screamed for him to leave, to get out of her house. Archi tried to talk rationally to her, but she wouldn't listen, and he left the house that he had helped pay for, and stayed with his sister.

In Pashtun culture your whole family walks with you for the first hundred metres when you leave on a long journey. Archi did the hundred metres alone

The next morning a friend called him.

"Where were you last night?"

"My sister's house."

"Man, you're lucky."

"Why?"

"The Taliban were at your house last night to pick you up".

Archi doesn't know the full details. He knows what people have told him: that his father had offered to give Archi to them. He knows that is probably why his mother slapped him - to save him.

Archi went back home to confront his father, but he could make no sense of what had happened. Why hadn't his father just told him to quit, to not come home, to do anything else? Why hadn't his father told him that Rahman had been calling him? How could his father just give up his son to die? He never got an answer. It was his last contact with his father.

The country and family he had fought for had betrayed him for the last time. Farman was dead. His father was dead to him. Archi no longer wanted to live and die in his country. He didn't want to protect it, he wanted to leave it.

He applied for his Special Immigrant Visa to the US. Vice reported in 2015 that thousands of such applicants are still waiting for their visas. Luckily for Archi, he only had to wait six months. He secretly came back to Marawara for what he told everyone would be one final week, to say goodbye. He stayed for a day, in his friend's house, and then left.

In Pashtun culture your whole family walks with you for the first hundred metres when you leave on a long journey. Archi did the hundred metres alone.

Edward Fox bowls on the cricket ground he built © Edward Fox

The International Rescue Committee sponsored, and helped, Archi move from Kabul to Kansas. They took him to McDonald's. ("This is wonderful, I thought it was a special place.") Even a standard budget hotel was "so nice to me - I didn't understand things could be nice like this." It didn't even matter to Archi that due to an administrative mistake, he was now FNU (first name unknown).

Eventually he would get an apartment in Kansas and start lessons on how to fit into American society. At one of them, he said he liked cricket. Being that in Kansas that isn't all too common, he was quickly introduced to Edward Fox.

Fox asked him why he chose Kansas when he had also been offered New York. "The guys in my battalion told me it was a peaceful place, and I'm tired of being shot at and blown up." Fox liked Archi immediately. He wanted to help him. That he played cricket was just a bonus. He took Archi back to his home, his ground.

Fox's ground isn't one of the great cricket grounds of the world. It's a farm, with an okay surface, synthetic pitch, and a lovely changing room. To Archi, it could not have been more beautiful. "It was, wow, heaven, you know, just great." He was holding a proper cricket ball, standing on a green ground, and there were no rockets going overhead. There was no reason to have a death wish anymore; he had reached heaven.

Fox and his family embraced Archi like a son. They helped get him a job. They bought him a car. They bought him a suit. "Here I have a family, a father, a mom, a sister, brothers. On my birthday, and Christmas, I never had gifts, I never celebrated my birthday in my whole life, and they threw me a party with 40 or 50 people. These people are Christian, so they are different, but I never feel like that." Fox and his wife have even talked about adult adoption, and making Archi an official member of their family. Of Fox's daughter, Archi says, "She is my sister - we talk all the time, we have a better relationship than I had with my sisters."

Fox asked Archi why he chose Kansas when he had also been offered New York. "The guys in my battalion told me it was a peaceful place, and I'm tired of being shot at and blown up"

Fox gets angry when his friends post things on Facebook declaring all Muslims are terrorists, or that Muslim refugees shouldn't be allowed in America. He tries to set those people straight. In Middle America it can sometimes be a hard war to win.

Archi still thinks about home. He thought about travelling back recently. "Only two people in Afghanistan have my phone number, and those are the two I trust with my life. I had Facebook but I deleted it, because I didn't want to have a connection with those people."

He still sends money back to Marawara. He wants to make it big in America and build a cricket ground back home. Until then he and Fox take cricket around America, visiting schools and churches to spread the word. For his day job he works for the International Rescue Committee, finding jobs for people like him.

Kansas is flat; it is nothing like the Hindu Kush that defined Archi. There are some nights Archi still wakes up in a panic, including his first fourth of July. His mind is not trained to the difference between fireworks and rockets yet. When he closes his eyes, he still sees Rahman in the shadows, he still sees Farman's face, he is still back in Afghanistan, but when his eyes are open and he is on the field, Fox's green field, he has finally found peace.

This is not Archi's dream, this is Archi's reality. It is beyond his dreams; it is his first real home. There are no bombs on this field, only cricket and love. Here the only running he does is between the wickets. Here the only danger is when he is bowling, and here when something goes boom, it isn't a bomb but a thump off his blade. Now when he fights, he is a warrior with a bat, the Shahid Afridi of Kansas.

Jarrod Kimber is a writer for ESPNcricinfo. @ajarrodkimber

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

 

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Personal information
Full nameSahibzada Mohammad Shahid Khan Afridi
Born(1980-03-01) 1 March 1980 (age 38)
Khyber, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Pakistan
NicknameBoom Boom, Lala[1]
Height1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
BattingRight-handed
BowlingRight arm leg spin
RoleAll-rounder
RelationsJaved Afridi(Cousin)
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 153)22 October 1998 v Australia
Last Test13 July 2010 v Australia
ODI debut (cap 109)2 October 1996 v Kenya
Last ODI20 March 2015 v Australia
ODI shirt no.10
T20I debut (cap 8)28 August 2006 v England
Last T20I25 March 2016 v Australia
T20I shirt no.10
Domestic team information
YearsTeam
1995–2017Karachi Region & Karachi Dolphins
1997–2017Habib Bank Limited
2001Leicestershire
2003Derbyshire
2003–04Griqualand West
2004Kent
2007–2008Sind
2010Southern Redbacks
2008Deccan Chargers
2011–2012, 2017Hampshire
2011Melbourne Renegades
2011–2012[2]Dhaka Gladiators
2012Ruhuna Royals
2015 [3]Sylhet Super Stars
2016 – 2017[4]Peshawar Zalmi(squad no. 10)
2016Rangpur Riders
2017–presentDhaka Dynamites
Career statistics
CompetitionTestODIT20IFC
Matches2739898113
Runs scored1,7168,0641,4055,695
Batting average36.5123.5718.0131.46
100s/50s5/86/390/412/31
Top score15612454*164
Balls bowled3,19417,6702,14413,657
Wickets4839597266
Bowling average35.6034.5124.3526.68
5 wickets in innings1908
10 wickets in match0000
Best bowling5/527/124/116/101
Catches/stumpings10/–127/–30/–78/–

Source: ESPNcricinfo, 28 February 2018

Pride of Performance Award Recipient

Shahid Afridi was recipient of the Pride of Performance Award 2010[5]

Date2010
CountryIslamic Republic of Pakistan
Presented byIslamic Republic of Pakistan

Sahibzada Mohammad Shahid Khan Afridi (Urdu: شاہدافریدی‬‎; Pashto: شاهد اپریدی‎; born 1980),[6] popularly known as Boom Boom, is a former Pakistanicricketer and former captain of the Pakistan national cricket team.[7] As a successful All-rounder, Afridi was respected for his consistent bowling that relies on change of pace rather than spin, but drew greater attention for his aggressive batting style.[8][9] Afridi was the world record holder for the fastest ODI century in 37 deliveries and holds the distinction of having hit the most number of sixes in the history of ODI cricket.[10]

Afridi considers himself a better bowler than batsman, and has taken 48 Test wickets and over 350 in ODIs. Currently Afridi is leading the chart of most T20I wickets with 92 wickets from 92 matches.[11] He also holds a record of taking most wickets (97) and most player-of-the match awards in Twenty20 International cricket.[12]

Afridi was the President for PSL team Peshawar Zalmi which is owned by his cousin Javed Afridi.[13]

Afridi is a philanthropist and owner of the Shahid Afridi Foundation. In 2015, Afridi was named among the top 20 most charitable athletes in the world by Do Something.[14]

On 19 February 2017, Afridi announced his retirement from international cricket.[15][16]

Background

Afridi was born on 1 March 1980 in Khyber Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Pakistan. He is from the Afridi tribe of Pashtuns. He is cousin of Javed Afridi, CEO of Haier Pakistan.[6][13] Afridi is married to Nadia Afridi and has four daughters: Aqsa, Ansha, Ajwa and Asmara.[17]

International career

In October 1996 at age 16, Afridi was drafted into the ODI team during the four-nation Sameer Cup 1996–97 as a leg spinner as a replacement for the injured Mushtaq Ahmed.[18][19] He made his debut on 2 October against Kenya; however, he didn't bat and went wicketless.[20] In the next match against Sri Lanka, Afridi batted at number three in the role of a pinch-hitter. In his first international innings, Afridi broke the record for fastest century in ODI cricket, reaching his hundred from 37 balls. The eleven sixes he struck also equaled the record for most in an ODI innings.[21][nb 1] Aged 16 years and 217 days, Afridi became the youngest player to score an ODI century.[23] Pakistan posted a total of 371, at the time the second-highest in ODIs, and won by 82 runs; Afridi was named man of the match.[21] The record for fastest century in ODI was broken by New Zealand cricketer Corey Anderson on 1 January 2014 who hit 131* runs from 36 balls and is now held by South-African cricketer AB de Villiers who made a century from 31 balls on 18 January 2015 against West Indies.[24]

Two years after appearing on the international scene, Afridi made his Test debut in the third game of a three-match series against Australia on 22 October 1998.[25] By this point he had already played 66 ODIs, at the time a record before playing Tests.[26] He opened the batting, making scores of 10 and 6, and took five wickets in the first innings.[25] He played his second Test the following January during Pakistan's tour of India; it was the first Test between the two countries since 1990.[27] Again opening the batting, Afridi scored his maiden Test century, scoring 141 runs from 191 balls. In the same match he also claimed three wickets for 54 runs.[28] After winning the first match by 12 runs, Pakistan lost the second to draw the series.[29]

In 2001, Afridi signed a contract to represent Leicestershire. In five first-class matches he scored 295 runs at an average of 42.14, including a highest score of 164,[30] and took 11 wickets at an average of 46.45;[31] Afridi also played 11 one day matches for the club, scoring 481 runs at an average of 40.08[32] and taking 18 wickets at 24.04.[33] His highest score of 95 came from 58 balls in a semi-final of the C&G Trophy to help Leicestershire beat Lancashire by seven wickets.[34]Derbyshire County Cricket Club signed Afridi to play for them in the first two months of the 2003 English cricket season.[35] In June 2004 Afridi signed with English county side Kent to play for them in three Twenty20 matches and one Totesport League match.[36]

Afridi made his presence felt in the third Test against India in March 2005, scoring a quick-fire second-innings half-century and taking five wickets in the match (including Tendulkar twice) to help Pakistan to win the game and register a series draw.[37] In April Afridi struck what at the time was the equal second-fastest century in ODIs; he reached 100 off 45 deliveries against India, sharing the record with West Indian Brian Lara.[38] Afridi was more consistent with his batting and bowling throughout 2005, starting with the tours of India and West Indies and through to the England tour. The Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer helped Afridi to reach a fuller potential by improving his shot selection and giving him free rein over his batting attitude.

On 21 November 2005, Shahid Afridi was banned for a Test match and two ODIs for deliberately damaging the pitch in the second match of the three-Test series against England. Television cameras pictured him scraping his boots on the pitch scuffing the surface when play was held up after a gas canister exploded. Afridi later pleaded guilty to a level three breach of the ICC code of conduct relating to the spirit of the game. Match referee Roshan Mahanama said: "This ban should serve as a message to players that this type of behaviour is not allowed."[39][40][41]

On 12 April 2006, Afridi announced a temporary retirement from Test cricket so that he could concentrate on ODIs, with a particular focus on the 2007 World Cup, and to spend more time with his family. He said he would consider reversing his decision after the World Cup. Afridi had played ten Tests since being recalled to the side in January 2005, averaging 47.44 with the bat including four centuries.[42] However, on 27 April he reversed his decision, saying that "[Woolmer] told me that I am one of the main players in the team and squad and that Pakistan really needed me".[43] Before Pakistan toured England in July to September, Afridi played for Ireland as an overseas player in the C&G Trophy.[43] In six matches, he scored 128 runs[44] and took seven wickets.[45] England won the four-match Test series 3–0;[46] Afridi played two matches, scoring 49 runs[47] and took three wickets.[48] It was the last Test cricket Afridi played until 2010.[49]

Afridi was charged on 8 February 2007 of bringing the game into disrepute after he was seen on camera thrusting his bat at a spectator who swore at him on his way up the steps after being dismissed. Afridi was given a four-game ODI suspension, the minimum possible ban for such an offence, meaning that he would miss Pakistan's first two 2007 World Cup matches. The PCB and Afridi chose not to appeal the ban, despite feeling that the punishment was excessively harsh.[50]

In the 2007 World Twenty20, he performed poorly with the bat but brilliantly with the ball, earning the Man of the Series award, though he failed to take a wicket in the final and was out for a golden duck. He also became the first person to receive the Player of the Tournament award in T20 World Cup history. But in the next ICC Twenty20 World Cup, held in 2009 Afridi performed brilliantly in the series scoring 50 runs in the semi-final and 54 in the final and leading his team to victory.

During the ICC World T20 final in 2009 v Sri Lanka at Lord's. He set some allround records which are mindblowing

  • He became the first player to score a fifty in a successful runchase in a World T20 final.
  • Afridi became the first player to score a fifty and to take at least a single wicket in a World T20 final.[51]
  • He also became the only player to win both the Player of the Final(2009) and the Player of the tournament awards in ICC World T20 history.[52]

Captaincy (2009–2011)

Shortly after Pakistan won the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 the captain Younis Khan announced his retirement from Twenty20 cricket the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) subsequently announced that Shahid Afridi had taken over as captain in T20Is; the appointment was initially for one match, with a decision on the permanent replacement to be made later.[53] On 31 January 2010, Afridi was caught on camera biting into the ball towards the end of the 5th Commonwealth Bank ODI series in Australia.[54] Later Afridi pleaded guilty to ball tampering and he was banned from two Twenty20 internationals.[55]

In March 2010 the board announced that Shahid Afridi had been appointed ODI captain in place of the sacked Mohammad Yousuf he led Pakistan in the 2010 Asia Cup and during his first three matches as ODI captain he scored two centuries against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh he finished as the tournaments highest runscorer with 384 runs from 3 matches.

On 25 May 2010, Afridi was appointed captain of the national team in all three formats, after he announced his return to Test cricket.[56] In July 2010, Afridi captained Pakistan in the first Test of the series at Lord's against Australia. He scored 31 off 15 deliveries in the first innings and 2 in the second but was dismissed succumbing to rash strokes in both the innings. After the match, he announced retirement from Test cricket again citing lack of temperament for Test cricket as the reason.[57] Afridi was officially removed from the Test squad on the England tour, but after the spot-fixing scandal saw Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir and Test captain Salman Butt temporarily suspended by the International Cricket Council, he stated that he might return to Test cricket if "the team needs it".[58] According to a representative of Afridi, he had voiced his concerns about Mazhar Majeed – who had approached Pakistan's players – in June.[59] Majeed also confirmed that he approached Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Younis Khan and Saeed Ajmal but all off them refused to be affiliated with him of his fixing menace. Worth mentioning is that the four names given above were not associated in the original scandal and that no disciplinary action have been taken against them by the sports governing body the International Cricket Council.[60]

 MatchesWonLostDrawnTiedNo result
Test[62]279990
ODI[63]39821817019
T20I[64]8048311

In October, Afridi stated in an interview with Express News that the squad had been selected without his consultation; the PCB gave him an official warning for the interview.[65] Coach Waqar Younis also expressed his unhappiness at having no input in the selection; however, Mohsin Khan, the chief selector, defended the decision, stating, "it is not written down in the PCB constitution that the coach and captain(s) must have a say in the selection of any squad".[66] Pakistan lost the series 3–2.

The team toured New Zealand between December 2010 and February 2011 for two Tests, six ODIs, and three T20Is. Pakistan lost the first two T20Is but won the third; in final match Afridi became the first cricketer to reach 50 international wickets in the format.[67] In the same match, he also became the first cricketer to have completed the double of 500 runs and 50 wickets in the T20 Internationals.[68] When Pakistan's squad for the 2011 World Cup was announced no captain was named; Afridi, the incumbent ODI captain and Misbah-ul-Haq, the Test captain, were the front runners for the position.[69] Pakistan lost the first match against New Zealand by 8-wickets, the second match got rained out and in the third Mohammad Hafeez scored a century and Afridi scored a blistering 65 from just 25 balls. The following match was a tight game but Pakistan prevailed by two-wickets thanks to three boundaries from Sohail Tanvir, the match was set up by a 93 not out from Misbah-ul-Haq. The fifth ODI was won for Pakistan by 43 runs courtesy of a maiden ODI-century from Ahmed Shehzad. Afridi helped in the lower order by scoring 24 and taking two crucial top order wickets to help guide Pakistan to a 43-run victory and their first ODI series win in two years.[70]

After gaining victory as a captain against New Zealand, the PCB declared Shahid Afridi as Pakistan's captain for the 2011 World Cup. In Pakistan's opening match of the tournament, Afridi took 5 wickets for 16 runs against Kenya, giving him the best bowling figures by a Pakistan bowler in a World Cup.[71] In the following match against Sri Lanka, which Pakistan won, Afridi claimed for more wickets to help his side to victory and became the second player to have scored 4,000 runs and taken 300 wickets in ODIs.[72][nb 2] He claimed 17 wickets from 6 matches in the first round of the Cup, including a five-wicket haul against Canada,[73] as Pakistan finished top of their group and progressed to the next stage.[74] After beating the West Indies in the quarter-final, with Afridi taking four wickets,[75] Pakistan were knocked out of the semi-finals in a 29-run defeat to India.[76] Afridi was the tournament's joint-leading wicket-taker with 21 wickets, level with India's Zaheer Khan, even though Afridi had played one match less than him.[77]

Soon after the World Cup Pakistan toured the West Indies for a T20I, five ODIs, and two Tests. Pakistan lost the only T20I[78] but won the ODI series that followed 3–2.[79] Afridi took two wickets and scored 28 runs in the series.[80][81] The coach, Waqar Younis, fell out with Afridi and in his report on the tour criticised Afridi, saying "as a captain he is very immature, has poor discipline, lacks a gameplan and is unwilling to listen to others' opinions or advice".[82] After the series, on 19 May the PCB replaced Afridi as ODI captain with Misbah-ul-Haq for the two-match ODI series against Ireland later that month. In 34 ODIs as captain, Afridi led his side to 18 wins and 15 defeats.[83] Afridi subsequently withdrew from the touring squad, citing the illness of his father.[84]

Conditional retirement and return (2011–2017)

On 30 May Afridi announced his conditional retirement from international cricket in protest against his treatment by the PCB. The condition on his return was that the board be replaced.[85] The PCB suspended Afridi's central contract, fined him 4.5 million rupees ($52,300), and revoked his no-objection certificate (NOC) which allowed Afridi to play for Hampshire. Afridi filed a petition with the Sindh High Court to overturn the sanctions. On 15 June, Afridi withdrew his petition after an out of court settlement and the PCB reinstated his NOC.[86] When the PCB's central contracts were renewed in August, Afridi's was allowed to lapse.[87] In October he withdrew his retirement as Ijaz Butt had been replaced as chairman of the PCB. [88] Two weeks after his announcement, Afridi was included in Pakistan's squad to face Sri Lanka in three ODIs and a T20I.[89] In November 2011, Afridi became the only cricketer to score a half-century and take five wickets on two separate occasions in ODIs.[90] Afridi achieved this feat in the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka which helped Pakistan to secure the one-day series.[91] He also became the first person to score 50 in his 50th T20 International (he is the only one to have played 50 T20Is as of 9 July 2012). Afridi holds the most Player of the Match awards with 7, one above Sanath Jayasuriya and Kevin Pietersen who are both tied in 2nd place with 6.[68]

In 2013 during the first ODI game against the West Indies in Guyana, Afridi finished with figures of 7/12, the second best ODI bowling figures of all time.[92][93]

In July 2014, he played for the Rest of the World side in the Bicentenary Celebration match at Lord's.[94]

Afridi announced his retirement from ODI cricket after 2015 Cricket World Cup. Pakistan lost to Australia in the quarter final and lost the tournament.

In March 2016, Pakistan was eliminated from the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 after losing to India, New Zealand and Australia. There were talks about this being Afridi's 'last Twenty20' and he said after the loss to Australia that he would think about retiring and announce it within a week.[95] On 3 April 2016, he announced he will not be retiring, but instead just step down as Twenty20 Captain.[96]

In September 2016, the PCB announced that they wanted Afridi to retire. Afridi said it was unfair for them to announce his plans in the media, but then said he wanted a farewell match, which didn't happen as a result of him cancelling a meeting regarding the issue with the PCB.[97]

In 2017, Afridi announced that he quit international cricket after 21 years, saying he would continue to play domestic T20 for another 2 years before retiring.[98]

2016 ICC World Twenty20

In March 2016, Pakistan was unable to make it to the semi-finals in the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 after losing to New Zealand, India and Australia. Before Australia's match, the PCB hinted at Afridi's retirement. However, he went against their decision after the match and announced that he would make the decision himself after consulting family and other iconic players beforehand and also announce it in Pakistan.[99] He also stated that 'as a player, I am fit. As a captain, I am not fit'.[100] Former Australian player Ian Chappell praised his honesty in this confession.

Waqar Younis, the head coach, was initially blamed and he accepted responsibility and offered to retire. However, a six-page report by Younis was later leaked by the PCB to the media where he was shown to be pointing much of the blame onto Afridi. First Younis claimed that Afridi was 'unfair' to new cricketer Mohammad Nawaz by calling him up to bowl in the Asia Cup 2016 because it 'destroyed the youngster's confidence' after he gave 38-runs in 3 overs. Younis went on to accuse Afridi of being 'non-serious' in the game along with saying that he missed training sessions and meetings. He also said that Afridi showed poor performance with the bat, ball and as a captain and was clearly not listened to by other players.[101] Younis expressed great anger on the report being leaked as it led to fans criticising him for shifting the blame onto Afridi instead of accepting equal responsibility.[102] Manager Intikhab Alam also called Afridi 'clueless' in the 3 matches but said Younis was unable to ensure that the players were physically fit.[103]

Afridi was asked to appear to the enquiry committee, made up of Misbah-ul-Haq and other iconic players, who would hear his view on the situation. However, it was said he refused to until it was revealed that his daughter was in hospital undergoing surgery at the time. He opted to be interviewed by phone.[104]

Days after the match, Afridi posted a video on Twitter, in which he apologised to all his fans for the teams disappointing performance. He said he didn't care about what others were saying about him and only wanted to answer to his fans and wanted to apologise for letting them and Pakistan down. Despite earlier criticism, many fans commented and circulated that he should not be sorry, with many from India supporting him. Even during his arrival from Dubai back to Pakistan, a few days after the rest of the team, fans chanted 'Boom Boom Afridi' at the airport amidst high security.[105]

In April 2016, he finally announced he was stepping down as T20I captain, but was not retiring. He said he wanted to "continue to play the game for my country".[106]Sarfraz Ahmed was appointed as Pakistan's T20I captain following Afridi's resignation.[107]

Retirement

In July 2010, Afridi announced his retirement from Test cricket.[108] After the 2015 ICC World Cup, he retired from the ODI cricket as well.[109] In February 2017, he announced his retirement from international cricket.[110]

Playing style

Batting

His general style of batting is very aggressive and attack oriented and has earned him the nickname "Boom Boom Afridi". Moreover, out of the seven fastest ODI centuries of all time, Afridi has produced three of them.[111] As of May 2013[update], he has an ODI strike rate of 114.53 runs per 100 balls, the third highest in the game's history.[112] This attitude has been transferred to Test cricket as well, with Afridi scoring at a relatively high strike rate of 86.97.

He hits many sixes long and high, favouring straight down the ground or over midwicket. His trademark shot is a cross-batted flick to the leg-side to a ball outside off stump. However, his aggressive style increases his risk of getting out and he is one of the most inconsistent batsmen in cricket. This is reflected by the fact that he is the only player to score more than 7,000 ODI runs at an average under 25.[113] Afridi is the only player in the world who has scored 1,000 runs and 50 wickets in the T20 format of the game.[114] Afridi has moved about the batting order, and this lack of consistency has made it difficult for him to settle. In the Indian subcontinent, where the ball quickly loses its shine, he prefers to open the batting; however, elsewhere he prefers to bat at number six.[115]

On 22 August 2017, in his 256th Twenty20 match,[116] Afridi hit his first century in the format, scoring 101 for Hampshire in the 2017 NatWest t20 Blast against Derbyshire.[117]

Bowling

Having started as a fast bowler, Afridi decided to start bowling spin after he was told he was throwing. He modelled himself on Pakistan leg-spinner Abdul Qadir.[6] Afridi began his career as primarily a bowler, but after scoring the fastest century in his maiden ODI innings more was expected of him with the bat. He considers himself a better bowler than batsman.[115] While he is renowned for his aggressive batting, he is also a handy leg-spinner capable of producing a good mix of wicket taking balls.[118] He has over 350 International wickets, most of which are from the ODI format. While his stock ball is the leg break, his armoury also includes the conventional off break and a "quicker one" which he can deliver in the style of a medium-pacer, reaching speeds of around 130 km/h (81 mph).[119] He bowls at a high speed for a spinner, resulting in lesser turn, and relying more on variations in speed. He occasionally sends down a bouncer to a batsman, which is very rare for a spin bowler.

Controversies

Afridi has been accused of Islamic radicalism and bigotry when in an interview he said “Pakistani and Muslim hearts” are much bigger than those of Indians.[120]

In 2003 India's Border Security Force identified a Harkat-ul-Ansar terrorist killed in South Kashmir as a cousin of Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi.[121]

Philanthropy

In March 2014, Shahid Afridi established the Shahid Afridi Foundation which aims to provide healthcare and education facilities in Pakistan. He was named among the world's most charitable athletes by Do Something in August 2015.[122][123]

UNICEF and many Pakistani authorities have taken Shahid Afridi on board for the anti-polio campaign in the tribal belt of lawless Waziristan region.[124]

Other records

  • Holds the record for taking the most number of wickets as captain in T20Is (40)[125]
  • Holds the record for the best bowling figures as captain in a T20I (4–14)[126]
  • Most runs conceded by a bowler in his T20I career (2362)[127]
  • Holds the record for taking the most number of T20I wickets when playing at away soil (29)[128]
  • The first ever player to score a hat-trick in 10-over format for Pakhtoons vs Maratha Arabians [3–19 (2.0)]; 2017 T10 Cricket League[129]

References

Footnotes
References
An innings-by-innings breakdown of Afridi's Test match batting career up to 30 December 2007, showing runs scored (red bars) and the average of the last ten innings (blue line)
Afridi in the field during a 50-over warm-up match against Somerset at the County Ground, Taunton, during Pakistan's 2010 tour of England
Afridi bowling his stock leg-spin delivery
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  4. ^http://www.espncricinfo.com/pakistan/content/story/1088411.html
  5. ^Shahid Afridi gets Pride of Performance award
  6. ^ abcSteer, Duncan, Shahid Afridi: the story of my life, Spin: The Cricket Magazine, retrieved 27 February 2011 
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  12. ^"Afridi leads the way in race to 100". NDTV Sports. 29 November 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015. 
  13. ^ ab"PSL: 'Peshawar is close to my heart,' says team owner Javed Afridi". DAWN. Kolkata, India. 21 December 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015. 
  14. ^"Shahid Afridi among world's top 20 charitable athletes". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 7 August 2016. 
  15. ^"Shahid Afridi quits Afghanistan T20 League after Pakistan Cricket Board snub". Muslim Global. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
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  17. ^Sameen Tahir-Khan (29 June 2005). "Afridi: You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet". Arab News. Retrieved 16 July 2010. 
  18. ^Alfred, Luke, Sameer Four Nations Cup, 1996–97, Wisden Cricketers' Almanac, retrieved 24 February 2011 
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  32. ^ListA batting and fielding for each team by Shahid Afridi, Cricket Archive, retrieved 8 March 2011 
  33. ^ListA bowling for each team by Shahid Afridi, Cricket Archive, retrieved 8 March 2011 
  34. ^Briggs, Simon (13 August 2001), "C&G Trophy semi-finals: Afridi big hit as Leicestershire march to Lord's", The Daily Telegraph, retrieved 8 March 2011 
  35. ^Derbyshire clinch Afridi, BBC Sport, 15 January 2003, retrieved 31 March 2011 
  36. ^Kent sign Afridi, BBC Sport, 30 June 2004, retrieved 31 March 2011 
  37. ^"Pakistan vs India". Cricinfo. 28 March 2005. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  38. ^Vaidyanathan, Siddhartha (15 April 2005), Pakistan ride on Afridi blitz, Cricinfo, retrieved 7 March 2011 
  39. ^"Afridi banned for damaging pitch". London: BBC. 21 November 2005. Retrieved 26 February 2010.

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