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An open letter to Shahid Afridi

An open letter to Shahid Afridi

Dear Shahid bhai,

You have got to be kidding me.

Let me see if I have this right and feel free to correct me: After years of pining to be Pakistan’s undisputed captain you are finally given the mantle amidst intense player and administration controversy only to abdicate its most important component due to a single Test loss and your angst-ridden self-confidence issues.

Shahid, I just glanced through the Pashtunwali and, while it was only a cursory inspection, I’m sorry but I couldn’t find the section in this code where your ancestors prescribed that cowardice and insecurity is the way to deal with adversity. I guess that’s only in your edition, huh?

It’s quite staggering how selfish your decision is Shahid, particularly for a guy who displayed all the right sentiments for returning to Test match cricket and assuming leadership of the squad. You acknowledged that the country needed you to restore order to a troubled and rudderless team and you considered it your duty to answer that call.

What’s changed since those last few months Shahid? Did you suddenly discover you weren’t suited for Test match cricket in the space of two innings? Shahid, you were never a good Test player but that was never the point. You were appointed solely for your leadership, which is why I am so incensed at your decision because I think you were actually the right man for the job across all formats of the game.

Shahid, if Younis Khan was still around we would never have troubled you to venture out of your little comfort zone and find it in your heart to help out a bit. But he isn’t, possibly thanks partly to you. So we chose the next best thing – someone who could at least garner the collective respect of a divided team and force them to work together as a cohesive unit. You were the perfect man for that assignment because, since Inzamam, you are the only personality in the dressing room who is capable of commanding unquestioned obedience.

Despite the loss in the first Test, I honestly believe you did a fairly decent job. You juggled your fast bowlers expertly, made the right bowling changes and maintained a positive field structure. In fact, as far as your individual contribution goes, I’d even go as far as to say that Mike Holmans was spot on in his glowing tribute to your first innings 30 odd. Sometimes attack is the best form of defense and a 30 of 15 is better than a 30 off 100. You’re actually very capable of taking the momentum of an innings away from the opposition in this format, as amply displayed by you in the second innings of one of our most famous wins against India.

However, your second innings in this Test was inexcusable and I refuse to condone it as an example of you only knowing one way to bat. No Shahid, that was an instance of you taking the coward’s way out and simply giving up in that innings as a precursor to jumping ship from this format. No one expected you to win the match for us, Shahid. But yaar, at least don’t come out there and wave the white flag, which is more yellow in your case.

You aren’t fooling me, Shahid, with your apparently candid submissions about how you don’t have the “temperament” to play Test cricket. I know your decision is rooted in the deep set insecurity which plagues your psyche. You are obsessed with your public image; by the subservience of your countless “boom boom” fans. You can’t handle the fact that they might consider you remotely mortal upon witnessing your failings in Test cricket. No, Shahid bhai is a brand now, and prolonged Test match exposure wouldn’t do the brand name any good now would it?

Shahid, don’t you understand that overcoming adversity is just as heroic as being viewed as indestructible? You’re so obsessed with propagating this Superman image whereas it would be the ultimate endorsement of yourself to actually surmount your weaknesses rather than dismissing them as fait accompli. If you’ll pardon the obscure reference, that’s why Batman is more popular a character than Superman. Batman is glaringly mortal but devotes his life to conquering his mortal frailties. Shahid, why don’t you face your demons rather than running away form them with your tail between your legs?

You claim you aren’t “capable” of playing Test cricket? What kind of a statement is that anyway? Is that the lesson you want to give to your kids and millions of other Pakistanis who look up to you? Shahid bhai says that when you fail at something just convince yourself that you aren’t good enough and walk away. Don’t work hard at it; don’t try to analyse what you’re doing wrong and attempt to redress those errors. No, simply give up and accept the inevitable.

Are you for real? Is that the message you’re trying to convey to my 10 year old nephew whose world begins and ends with “Boom Boom” Sher Afridi? Throw in the towel when things get tough. Imran Farhat is quite possibly the worst Test opener in the world but even I’ll give him credit for sticking to his guns and not conceding defeat. Say, shouldn’t this be the lowest point in your career if you’re being analogised against Imran Farhat rather than being compared to Imran Khan??

What’s worse is, you hotfooting it from the Test captaincy has placed that unenviable responsibility on Salman Butt’s shoulders. And poor Butt has just recently discovered himself as a player. Salman is the best batsman in our Test team right now – not as talented as Umar Akmal but certainly more reliable at this point. But now you risk corrupting his fragile form by putting him in a role he is not yet ready for. The team atmosphere is poisonous and there is every chance it will debilitate Salman’s batting.

You know Shahid, a very experienced and talented player once condemned his captain for letting his personal issues force him into abandoning his country on the eve of a Test series. This player rightfully commented on how the captain should have set his apprehensions aside due to the central role played by the captain in his team. You know which wise player said those words, Shahid? It was you, man! Karma is a…well, lets just say that Karma is you Shahid.


Farooq80Farooq Nomani is a Karachi-based lawyer who is willing to represent the PCB for free. He blogs at

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144 Responses to “An open letter to Shahid Afridi”

  1. Amer says:

    Afridi you dont deserve to be the captain ever… The could never think right. He is a selfish player who just like to play the way he likes to play that is just hit the ball cuz he cant stop the ball or play any differently.

  2. Rida Shariq says:

    I’ve read your other articles and you’re a super writer and i really liked the concept of this but I think it was a bit harsh. Granted, it did not show good leadership and did not do much for the spirits of the team or the Pakistanis around the world but had he not left when he did we might’ve not had the second test win under Butt’s leadership.

    I do not think Afridi should give up test – he should’ve promised the nation that he would return when he was in form and ready; that would’ve softened the blow and still kept the nation’s spirit high. I am an optimist when it comes to Pakistani cricket and things should, hopefully, only get better.

    And lol @ junaid’s comment suggesting the letter be written in pushto.

  3. Suhail says:

    In my view, Arfidi is a kind of player whose technique suits the longer version of the game. He plays with straight bat and likes to drive the ball. He just needs to learn the art of avoiding the off cutters and that’s it. With his off spin bowling and marvelous fielding, he can become an asset for Pakistan cricket especially in the longer version. More importantly people want to see him in action.

  4. Afridi certainly showed a sluggish way of dealing with the issue by running away from the facts. He was clearly out of control but still he has a better ability to gain control before anyone can take control. He should have bore a little more severity on his own, get back a little, think a better strategy to organize the team, and once the team is in a better shape, he can opt to quit the leadership.

  5. Aikan says:

    Afridi carved a name for himself by scoring fastest innings in ODIs and with aggressive batting in T20s besides useful bowling for his team.His performances made him earn man of the match & player of tournament awards in international events & he is rightly adored by youth world over. However his attitude in the field from trying to damage pitch with his shoes or chewing ball is highly irresponsible. Such immature acts do not make him fit for selection as a player but we have strange ways of rewarding rule breakers and convicts who end up captain or president in our country. His replacement with Salman Butt is an ideal decision which would go a long way in bringing decency and maturity in sport of cricket. Board must observe on & off field attitude of Afridi and show him door on first opportunity before he could cause more damage to country & cricket.

  6. Mushtaq says:

    We all need to learn how to work in a professional manner. Shahid is a good player and he has his own style. We all love that style but today’s cricket needs a lot more than just “Boom boom, and boom”. Cricket is change a lot from the past. We need play with the right cards in our hands to win the game. Look at the other international teams and learn from them. This is a time for us to bring change in. If a person is admitting his deficiencies it is his greatness. It is not only giving chances to others to prove they are capable but also encourage them to accept their weaknesses if any. For the management, it is a time to think how to produce leaders. We think some people are born leaders which is total wrong. Leaders are prepared through a tough series of lessons and training. They are tested with specific tasks before naming as “Leader”. It is a wake up call for PCB on how to create this cycle and if PCB can’t produce leaders, it should learn from Shahid Afridi how to step out and give a chance to those who can do these job in a rightly manner.

  7. Shoaib Saleem says:

    In my opinion Shahid did the right thing and infact management now should pin point players which do not have temperament to stay at wicket like Umer Akmal, though the timing might be wrong ! what the team management/ seniors (Imran, Javed, Waseem, Waqar & Aqib) need to educate Salman, as he is not a born leader or may be He should learn things like (Field setting, changing bowlers, when to use your surprise element or odd bowler) from other great captains like Steve Vaugh, Ponting, Smith and i beleive there is no harm in this infact it will definatly help him and the team

  8. Abdul Rehman says:

    With all due respect to the writer accepting your short comings is no ordinary feat. He knows that his time to learn is gone. He is not getting younger any more and test cricket is about temperament. And with Afridi’s temperament it gives a wrong signal to the dressing room. Already the lack of cricket has brought Pakistan to this point and if Afridi had stayed and played like the way he did and encouraged everyone else to play it like a one day then I am afraid Pakistan cricket would have gone back even further. Its not only about winning a test its to be in the right state of mind.

    I respect Afridi that he was honest in acknowledging that he cannot change his style and its better that a youngster gets a chance instead who can be the future of Pakistan.

  9. Vaseem says:

    Hi All,

    I can’t understand what he did by retiring from Test Cricket, Pakistan has lost 13 Test matches in row, and since 1995 when all greats like Wasim, Waqar, Inzmam, yousuf and Moin…Aamir and Saeed Anwar was there. I fail to understand why he did so….the team needed him and he left the sinking ship. There are a lot of rift in Pakistani camp and it can be smelled by the Salman Butt response…he back his decision because he wants to be captain. Every body wants to captain Pakistan team regard less of quality…and this is the primary reason of downfall of Pakistan Cricket did Younis performed after captaining…Did Yousuf possess the quality of captain he himself let his batting down to earth…likes of Kamran and Salman are having a single quality of Captain…and sorry to forgot Hero Shoaib Malik…they are not captain material. Only SHAHID AFRIDI and SHOAIB AKHTAR CAN BE CAPTAIN OF PAKISTAN. Shahid Please take your decision back and apologize to whole world and your fans….and from Cricket. You can score more than any one ok tell me who score more run than you in Lords test….PLEASE GO FOR OPENING THE TEST AND TAKE YOUR DECISION BACK…YOU CAN SCORE IN OPENING MORE THAN ANY OPENER IN PAKISTAN….

  10. Waqar Fasihi says:

    Shahid should come back.. As this is not the matter of his individual performance as a test cricketer, instead it is the matter of having a leadership for the team, for which Shahid is the best choice.

  11. Tanweer Hussain says:

    Hi all

    Shahid Afridi didn’t performed in well in the test and there was no place for him in the test team and that is why he left the captiancy and he did the right thing , don’t underestimate Afirdi he did the right thing but we only see the dark side that is why we only blame only blame.

  12. Omer Adhia says:

    Nice article. You hit the nail on the head. Afridi indeed has been selfish in steeping down as a Test captain right in the middle of series. I guess there is no such thing as leadership in the Pakistan cricket team. Its all about personal gains , country comes last.
    Btw, does Ijaz Butt have complete immunity ? If he was the CEO of a company, he would have been fired by the shareholders and stoned to death by the employees. I am sure he is the most incompetent chairman PCB has ever had and that is an achievement in itself.

  13. Vijay says:

    very accurate points
    i have stopped following cricket for past 2 years.. had enough of PCB and players scandals… now the latest afridi sage adds more fuel to my anger against pakistani team… i guess its good bye from my side to cricket.. other sports seems more fun to me now.

  14. kashif says:

    I think Salman Butt should stay captain for all formats. Afridi should have to earn his place back.

    Never send a boy to do a man’s job.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if Pakistan won at Headingley.

  15. salman jafri says:

    to shahid afridi you are wasting your talent.

  16. jUNAID S says:

    Maybe you need to write the letter in pashto

  17. Batada says:

    I cannot belive that a person like Shahid Afridi ran cowardly instead of facing challenge. I believe he will repent his decision later.

  18. Anee Ahmed says:

    Mr. Farooq writes that Shahid Afridi was appointed for this leadership. Now that’s a laugh. Shahid Afridi as a leader. Leader of what ?. The last time a leader lead the Pakistani cricket team was Imran Khan. Now, that was a leader who commanded respect and inspired his team. Under Imran’s grew Wasim and Waqar the duo that baffled the world of cricket with their swing bowling and with the terrifying speed and accuracy. They flourished and gave it all under their captain – a leader. To call the likes of Shahid Afridi a leader would be comparing Imran and Shahid and that would be a pity. But that said, Shahid Arfidi’s utility to the team as a bowler and a fielder I would certainly acknowledge and he has my admiration. Shahid decided not to play test cricket – so be it. That is his decision and let us respect that. The end of it, we don’t have a cricket team, we never had one since Inzamam became a captain. Since we don’t have a TEAM, any one can be the captain.

  19. Mehboob Qureshi says:

    Shahid Afridi is not fit for the test matches. Test match needs patience, he has no patience, scoring 30 odd runs are not enough against the strong team like Australia, one has to stay at the wicket so that one end should be blocked of falling wickets & by staying on the wicket the runs comes & any loose ball one can hit, but Mr.Afidi takes every ball loose.Being a leader what message he has given to his teammates by hiting every ball. To be a captain it needs planning, ressponsibility & consultation which S.Afridi lacked. So his decision is right to quit from Test matches.
    Allah bless us, Aameen

  20. jacknandan says:

    Really Afridi should apologies to whole country. When the country needs him he left the country in middle of crisis. What a selfish player he is. May be he is world class batsman but what the result.

  21. Faisal says:

    Excellent article and right on. Afridi gave up instead of taking it as a challenge. He has been playing cricket for the last 13 years and for him to say ‘I cannot play test cricket is crazy’. He did not even try in Test macthes and his test average is better than 1 day and 20/20.

  22. Rajesh says:

    Good decision by Shahid.If you didnt then you would have got life ban by PCB for loosing test matches.

  23. Rajesh says:

    Excellent decision by Afridi,if he did carry on loosing test matches then he would have been banned for life by PCB,at least he has saved himself for 20-20 and one day matches.

  24. Shahid says:

    Afridi was given a chance to lead the team in all format. Everyone knows he was not selected as a test team captian because of his performance. He was supposed to lead the team, I don’t believe anyone cared about his individual performance.

  25. Ali says:

    I think Mr. Farooq is very right on what he said.
    This in no way is a right thing to do on Shahid Afridi part to just come out of the ground and announce his retirment from Test Cricket. This is not what we call a sports man spirit and neither it is in the spirit of the game to just give up without a fight or atleast trying.
    In the earlier days the people who we called Cricketers were only Test players and i still believe any player a player who can not show or have the temprament of Test player is not a cricketer.
    Its Test Cricket were one can really see the strenght of a player weather its batting, bowling or fielding.
    Afridi should have more wise while making a decsion like this.
    Its not that Shahid did not know himself before singning in to be the captain of the team. He had made hudge claims to do God know what. In my opinon if Afridi had decided to retire from Test Cricket he should have also resigned from captancy.
    I have never seen any team playing International cricket having two captans one for Test and another for one days.

  26. Zaid81 says:

    He made the right decision, he is not a test player and good thing he realised it sooner. I believe he will do great for Pakistan in the other two formats.

  27. you are right Farooq bhai….Shahid don,t think that you are not a good caption 4 test…..I think you are the only player who can gather whole team… are very fantastic player …

  28. Khurram says:

    I wish there were more like Afridi in this country who would call it quits as the situation called for it. People like him have become a rare breed indeed.

    Very wise decision, leaving with his head held high. Nice work!!

  29. Imran Pakistani says:

    I can’t understand how people are supporting Shahid’s decision. I guess it just shows that coward people will support each other because they have never been leaders and don’t fully understand what leadership means.

  30. Peshawarite says:

    poor writing indeed.

    • RWren says:

      Thank you! At last, someone else was able to look past the context of the article, into the content! It might’ve been wrong for Afridi to ‘renounce’ his Test captaincy, or maybe not. Be that as it may, the style of this article leaves a lot to be desired! Nothing against the author (whom I’m sure is a super nice guy!) but really, did he HAVE to keep using “Shahid,” like, every third sentence?! Aughgh!

    • Aqil Siddiqi says:

      Why, because truth hurts???? I love Shahid Afridi, but the way he has left the sinking ship is just deplorable. Country needed him, his fans needed him, and most of all ‘Shahid Afridi”needed him.

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