I never liked the expression Boom Boom Afridi. I heard it many times, saw it in print far more often. I always felt the phenomenon should be called Untamed Afridi. Because of the bohemian and devil-may-care approach he brings to the game. To telling effect sometimes.
Taking nothing away from the heroic return of Abdul Razzaq, the T20 World Cup was in some way a celebration of this untamed spirit. Here is a force which can either be resisted or not. There is no third way. You can’t chalk out a method of controlling what the mighty call madness (maybe rightly, when it comes to sustainability) and when this madness unfurls, you can only watch with awe or helplessness depending on which side you are.
Afridi and his game are of the same kind. They don’t conform to the books because they haven’t read them and the books don’t approve them which is why they haven’t accommodated them. But by ignoring each other, both have been losers.
But how has this untamed spirit enriched the game? Not in monumental ways. No way. Afridi comes in only to throw his wicket away. You can’t hit every ball out of the ground. Most opposing captains know this. He is there only for a while and tries to make each moment a monumental statement. He fails most of the time. Statistics will only be a mute and accurate testimony to this. Beyond statistics, where moments are only moments, Afridi will live longer.
He brings to game the spirit of unabashed aggression, uninhibited by the natures of law. Here is one who has a go at everything when batting and hurls it straight and fast with occasional movement off the pitch when he has the ball. Whatever he does is a beat of that brave heart which challenges, everything, unendingly. Afridi is a nonconformist, to the core.
But when he gets it right, either batting or bowling, Afridi is a turbulent force. He can sweep away any block on his way, doesn’t matter big, small or who they are.
Pakistan’s T20 success will be interpreted as an escape to reprieve of a troubled nation. But it must never ever ignore the triumph of an untamed spirit called Shahid Khan Afridi.