So it turns out we know little about Pakistan’s former cricket captain Shahid Afridi. In a new book, called ‘Game Changer’, Boom Boom – as he is popularly called – has decided to come clean – about his age, his experiences and THAT infamous match-fixing scandal. And in doing so, he’s done some explosive revealing.
1. He did NOT make the record he is most famous for
When Afridi smashed a 37-ball century against Sri Lanka in 1996, he not only registered the fastest-ever one-day ton, he also became the youngest player to score 100 runs in an international. “For the record, I was just nineteen, and not sixteen like they claim,” he writes in “Game Changer”.
“I was born in 1975. So, yes, the authorities stated my age incorrectly.”
One little thing though – if he was born in 1975, it would mean he was either 20 or 21 at the time.
Wisden, the sport’s recognised almanac, still lists Afridi as the youngest player to score a one-day ton – aged 16 years and 217 days – but his fastest-century record lasted until 2014 when it was eclipsed by New Zealander Corey Anderson, and by South African AB de Villiers a year later.
2. Afridi doesn’t like Imran Khan’s leadership style
In the book, Afridi describes his teammate Waqar Younis as a mediocre captain and terrible coach.
He says Imran Khan, a former captain and now prime minister of Pakistan, had an “abrasive style leadership”. Clearly not one to shy away from confrontation, he adds: “By the way, they say that Khan… runs his cabinet the same way,” he added.
However, it’s not like he’s out to besmirch everyone’s reputation. Afridi heaped praise on the late Bob Woolmer, the Englishman who coached Pakistan during his best years.
“I can safely say that the only coach who gave me that kind of support was Woolmer. My batting stats were better under him,” he writes.
3. Problems with Gautam Gambhir
While cuss words are not unheard of on the field, generally civility rules. So it was unusual when in 2007, Afridi had a run in with ex- Indian opener Gautam Gambhir. Afridi is still nursing old grudges. He calls Gambhir “a burn out who had attitude problems” in the new tome. Recalling their confrontation, he says: “I remember that run-in with him in 2007 tour when he completed a single while running straight into me. The umpires had to finish it off or I would have,” he said.
“Clearly we had a frank bilateral discussion about each other’s female relatives.”
But it’s not like the other player is backing down. He was quick to suggest Afridi needed to visit a psychiatrist.
Now, the former Pakistan all-rounder has hit back at Gambhir. “I think Gautam Gambhir may have some problems. I am working with hospitals and I can get him very good treatment here,” Afridi said.
4. He smelled a rat during the 2010 spot-fixing scandal. He did not report it!
BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry has rebuffed Afridi for not reporting the 2010 spot-fixing matter to ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit after the revelation was made that he had an inkling of trouble at the time.
Taking to Twitter, the treasurer wrote: “Actually, once he became aware, he ought to have immediately reported it to the Anti Corruption Unit of the @ICC . How the ACU dealt with the information of him not having reported this would be interesting because it was a failure of his obligation Inder (sic) the code.”
The ICC rule, as accessed by IANS, says: “Participants must report all approaches, or information regarding corrupt conduct, or invitation to engage in corrupt conduct, to the appropriate ACU, without unnecessary delay.”
Afridi revealed in his autobiography that he was aware of the malpractices by teammates Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif before the 2010 spot-fixing scandal broke out.
He revealed that when he raised it with the team management, the inaction caused him frustration leading to his stepping down from the Test captaincy and eventually retiring from the longest format of the game. “Yes. For the record, I gave up. I quit.”
Afridi said he become aware of suspicious conversations between then player agent Mazhar Majeed, who was at the centre of the scandal, and players who were eventually accused during the 2010 Asia Cup in Sri Lanka.
“Before the Sri Lanka tour, Majeed and his family had joined the team during the championship. At one of the Sri Lankan beaches, Majeed’s young son dropped his father’s mobile phone in the water and it stopped working.
“Majeed gave the phone for repair to a shop whose owner was a ‘friend of a friend’. While fixing the phone, the shop owner, when asked to retrieve the messages came across Majeed’s messages to players of the Pakistan team. Though he shouldn’t have seen what he did, it was that leak from him to my friend and a few others (whom I won’t name) that looped me in on the scam.”
Afridi elaborated how he tried to alert the Pakistan team officials about conversations, but no action was taken.
“When I received those messages back in Sri Lanka, I showed them to Waqar Younis, then coach of the team. Unfortunately, he didn’t escalate the matter. Both Waqar and I thought it was something that would go away, something that wasn’t as bad as it looked, just a dodgy conversation between players and Majeed, at worst. But the messages weren’t harmless banter — they were part of something larger, which the world would soon discover,” the former Pakistan captain writes.
5. Afridi calls Javed Miandad petty
He calls Javed Miandad, Pakistan’s most successful Test batsman, “a small man” in the book.
“He hated the way I batted,” writes Afridi of the 1999 India tour, accusing Miandad of not giving him batting practice before the Chennai Test in which he scored a century to help Pakistan to a 12-run victory.
“Javed’s attitude towards me touched a new low. Before the post-match ceremony, he pulled me aside and said ‘Listen, buddy, you’d better make sure you thank me in the presentation’. I couldn’t believe it.
“That day I lost all my respect for Javed Miandad, supposedly one of the greats of the game but in reality, a small man.”
as published in GulfNews