By: | Muhammad Ali Azlan |
Legendary Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi on Sunday (25th March 2016) played his final international match, ending an illustrious and sometimes controversial 21-year career.
The 36-year-old star had already quit Tests in 2010 and ODI cricket after the 2015 World Cup but still skippered the Pakistan T20I team at the 2016 world championships in India. He stepped down as captain after the tournament although he retained slender hopes of continuing his career in the sport’s shortest format as a player.
“I have said goodbye to international cricket,” said Afridi.
After two decades of cricket, 10,645 international runs and 540 wickets in 523 matches announced his retirement from international cricket after scoring a brilliant 28-ball 54 in Peshawar Zalmi’s Super League match against Karachi Kings.
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Probably he had been waiting for one good knock from his bat to go out of the arena with his head held high and a look of triumph in his eyes.
Afridi has his critics and detractors, but his all around performances in all aspects of the game became befitting responses, he was rather mercurial but Afridi was always the inkling of hope who could turn the game on it’s head. His fans always expected more from him but his wizardry had human limits. He was lucky to have begun his international career with a 37-ball century that remained a world record for eighteen years. But this lucky start also went against him for the rest of his career.
The expectations that had been ‘triggered’ by that ‘monster’ of an innings against Sri Lanka were too unrealistic to be fulfilled. Yet he was a cricketer who was born to be the centre of attention for all those years which saw the demise of many great international careers.
I will not judge Afridi by his technical skills. He was always found wanting in that area. But he never failed to make hearts flutter, beat fast or sink.
Thank you Afridi, for years of hard work and dedication and for being our only megastar in the current group of cricketers… I have seen and observed cricket long enough to be wary of your accomplishments, you were never a complete batsman neither the most affluent of bowlers but what you were, was a sheer entertainment powerhouse who entertained cricket lovers around the globe with your six hitting prowess and knack of wicket taking, and I thank you for all the moments when you got our adrenaline pumping… You may have finished off on a sour note but to me you will always be a warrior who just liked playing for the gallery and that is where you faltered, But non the less. You served this country and this sport well… And will forever be remembered… You were always a fighter but never a general and we haven’t found one as yet.
We are proud of you Sahibzada Shahid Khan Afridi. You have made this nation proud on many an occasion, the fact that arguably the greatest All-rounder to play the game, South Africa’s Jacques Kallis besides you has achieved the feat of managing more than 500 wickets and 10000 runs in international matches in the centuries old history of cricket is a testament to his pedigree.
The game has and will see many a marvels but another Shahid Afridi may not be reproduced, he was certainly an enigma and the world of sports and Pakistan still miss seeing the likes of ‘Lala’ and his familiar flamboyance.