Swashbuckling Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi is back in the news again but this time, not with the bat and ball but with his keyboard. Afridi has come out with his autobiography, Game Changer, written with journalist Wajahat S. Khan, on several topics that have dogged him, be it his age, remember how he was said to be the youngest to score the fastest century for his 37-ball ton against Sri Lanka in October 1996, or his views on players of his generation among other things.
With several former players turning up as coaches and talismanic captains, like now Pakistan PM Imran Khan, Afridi doesn’t spare the seniors either. Imran’s bete noire and main rival in the team, Javed Miandad, gets some attention from Afridi also. Of course in India, Javed Miandad is seared on the subconscious of an entire generation of Indian cricket fans for his 6 off the last ball from Chetan Sharma, which was an attempted yorker landing as a plum full-toss, at the 1986 Austral-Asia Cup in Sharjah. Pakistan had needed 4 and Miandad got them a 6.
Let’s get back to Afridi’s book. Miandad, also from Karachi, was the coach during Pakistan’s 1999 Test tour of India. Afridi, who plays like Indian great Virender Sehwag with scant regard to coaching manuals and footwork, says Miandad hated his method of batting and the technique, if there was any. He wanted to drop Afridi from the tour but Wasim Akram won the day for Afridi by insisting on his availability for the tour.
During the tour, Afridi says he was not allowed to bat at the nets before the Chennai Test which Pakistan won. Afridi scored a match-winning 141 in the second innings. Ahead of the post-match ceremony, Afridi says Miandad told him to tell the TV crew that he had scored the match-winning innings because of Miandad’s coaching and grooming.
Afridi notes, rather dramatically, that he lost all respect for Javed Miandad, a great in cricket with 8,832 runs in 124 Tests, but “in reality, a small man”.
Yes, Afridi also admits that he was 19 and not 16 when he scored that whirlwind century against Sri Lanka.