Mohali: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi’s eccentric character has earned him an equal number of fans as well as detractors. And one wonders, what will be the kind of legacy he will leave behind after a 20-year international career, in case he hangs up his boots, as announced recently, if Pakistan lose to Australia in today’s World T20 tie at the PCA Stadium here.
Ramiz Raja, who was in the Pakistan squad when Afridi made his ODI debut in 1996 against Kenya, felt Pakistan cricket will miss the X-factor with the 36-year-old deciding announcing his retirement after the heart-breaking loss to New Zealand in Mohali on Tuesday.
“In Afridi’s case, there’s no middle ground. You either love him or don’t love him. I wouldn’t like to use a stronger word like hate him. He has been the X-factor and a fine all-rounder for Pakistan,” Raja, who is on commentary duty here, told mid-day.
“He will always be regarded as one of the greatest entertainers. If we had marks or grades to quantify the
entertainment value, he would be among the best in the business. He at times played for the gallery. He was the reason why so many people came to the stadium. He is adored by many around the world,” Raja added.
Given the kind of talent Afridi possesses, doesn’t quite truly reflect in his numbers — 8064 runs in 398 ODIs, 1716 in 27 Tests and 1391 in T20Is, and nearly 550 international wickets across the three formats.
“There is always a debate whether Afridi was an ideal role model. If you play with the same kind of attitude, flair and flamboyance, you can achieve a lot and be a good role model in that sense. The other side is you need to be more stable, consistent than mercurial. The team should rally around such talented players.
“From my point of view, Shahid Afridi was someone who had more talent than what his stats suggest. I genuinely liked the way he played his game... free-spirited and unfettered. Except for the last hitch as skipper, where I feel he could’ve done more, he would was a lot better. I would like him to win the match against Australia and bow out on a high,” signed off Raja.