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Shahid Afridi’s autobiography ‘Game Changer’ is the new talk of the town, with the swashbuckling all-rounder revealing the never-shared-before details about his personal and cricketing life.
In his memoir, co-written with journalist Wajahat S Khan, the former skipper has narrated his life’s journey from humble beginnings in the mountains of northwest Pakistan to his illustrious career as a cricketer and captain of the national cricket team. He has also offered his thoughts on former cricketers and coaches, praising some and bashing others as candidly as his batting style that earned him the nickname ‘Boom Boom’.
Commenting on World Cup winning captain-turned-prime minister Imran Khan, Afridi heaped praise on his ideas for ‘Naya Pakistan’ and his efforts for peace with India. “From his peace overtures (I quote his first speech, about Pakistan taking two steps towards peace if the Indians take one step – an approach I personally believe in too) to opening the Kartarpur corridor and releasing the Indian Air Force pilot shot down by the Pakistanis in February 2019 – peaceful relations with India are essential. Both countries, even the subcontinental region, will flourish,” the all-rounder writes in his book. Afridi believes Imran Khan must do more for resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
“However, Imran Khan must do more about Kashmir. We have to resolve that issue. We have to save the Kashmiri people, and we must involve them in the peace process. Nobody in the Indian subcontinent has suffered or struggled more than Kashmiris,” he says. “So much resources go into guarding this territory. So much goes into policing the Line of Control. So many mouths can get fed, so many minds can benourished, if India and Pakistan resolve the Kashmir issue through a Kashmiri-owned, Kashmiri-led peace process.”
Afridi further writes that he believes Imran Khan is “relatively more flexible than Modi ji” and that “he has already proven this”. “Imran Khan is now the elected prime minister of Pakistan. We have to give him the respect that a prime minister deserves. We have to make things work. As for his vision, I don’t have any doubts about Imran’s integrity or the goals he has set to achieve – a vision that he calls ‘Naya Pakistan’, the new Pakistan. The real question which bothers me, though, is his team selection,” he says.
“We all know that he [Imran Khan] didn’t personally like a lot of players who played under him. We all know he had an abrasive, confrontational, take-no-prisoners style of leadership. But he never got personal… By the way, they say that Khan, now prime minister of Pakistan, runs his cabinet the same way.”
Shahid Afridi has shared he and former captain Waqar Younis “had a history”. “Unfortunately, he hadn’t let go of the past,” he writes about the former pacer. “Waqar and I had a history, dating all the way back to his tiff with Wasim over the captaincy crown. He was a mediocre captain but a terrible coach, always micromanaging and getting in the way, trying to tell the captain – me – what to do… It was a natural clash and it was bound to happen.”
The all-rounder has also shed light on his tussle with former batsman Javed Miandad.
“The tussle had started even before the series kicked off. Miandad had developed a strong opinion against me… in fact, the day before I went to bat, Miandad didn’t even give me any net practice. So I had to practice on a stringed ball, alone, away from my teammates. That was the cloud of angst and embarrassment under which I was playing my first Test against Pakistan’s greatest rival.”
Afridi has also divulged details about his “real” age, which has long caused much amusement among his fan base. “I was just nineteen, and not sixteen like they claim. I was born in 1975. So yes, the authorities stated my age incorrectly,” the ever-green cricketer writes.