Skip to main content

BOOK REVIEW: Boom Boom Shahid Afridi

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Book Compiled & Edited by Asif Noorani

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / 01 May 2010

Cricketers, poor souls; they carry the weight of the world and the hopes of their nation. Legends in their fields, these celebrated few have a nationwide cult following. The sporting arena confers dual citizenship on the chosen. Time stands still when these demigods are in true form. The world ends when they are average mortals. These men walk a fine line between celebrity and infamy, crossing over at inopportune moments and tried by public opinion each time they do. That is where the pitchfork-wielding public comes in. Their passion for the game runs deep.

Shahid Afridi is Pakistan’s greatest asset. But he also suffers from a condition that makes him do funny things at the wrong moments. Afridi has provided fans with endless entertainment and a reason to live. He has also stomped on their hopes and snuffed out their dreams.

Boom Boom Shahid Afridi is being touted as the first book ever written about a sportsman, who, according to one writer, ranks amongst the most feared players in the international arena. An exceptional bowler, he may be, a force to reckon with, he certainly is, but while he puts the fear of God in his opponents, many have started to fear for him, especially after his latest stunt that involved some jaw-dropping antics where literal jaw dropping and an unfortunate chewed up cricket ball were involved. That and a failure to address his core weaknesses have prompted smitten fans to be cured of their infatuation.

Yet, it is difficult to completely sever ties with someone who hits rock bottom only to emerge with a rock solid performance under his belt. His fickle nature has been touched upon repeatedly; even the writer admits that “the only thing predictable about him is his unpredictability”. In fact, his failure to stick to the script is a cause for concern. His talent, however, has never been questioned.

Into this rarefied atmosphere, the player gets a brief reprieve in the form of a little book that expands upon the Afridi mythology. Asif Noorani, a self-confessed “armchair cricketer” and a veteran journalist has simply packed together interviews and published articles in a neat little bundle. Here, Afridi’s, dare we say, stellar career spanning 13 years has been condensed into 75 pages. So, while a legion of followers wait for a soul-searching piece based on their much-idolised cricketer’s hopes, dreams and unresolved issues, they can peruse a relatively lightweight exploration of his crowning achievements, with some spectacular failures served on the side.

The writer leads with an interview with Afridi and gives way to renowned cricket commentators like Kishore Bhimani, Zaheer Abbas and Chisty Mujahid, among others. Afridi’s mentors have also been brought on board to celebrate his undeniable genius and assess his volatile history. Asif Noorani has astutely selected articles that best represent the cricketer’s fiery career — from the accidental rise to fame of a rookie player who made ODI history to the calculated arrival at superstardom of a seasoned pro.

Saad Shafqat observes a man who has produced as many “detractors as devotees” and fuelled as much “fervour as fury” (page 45). Another critic points out that many cower and some shriek when “the great” shakes their hand and walks one through his metamorphosis from bowler to all rounder, senior statesman and inspiring leader. Wasim Akram, Afridi’s favourite captain, weighs in stating that he has a “bowler’s psyche and not a batsman’s mindset, making him reckless at batting”. That his unbroken record of scoring the fastest century in 37 balls still prevented him from getting a permanent place in the test team is lamented upon in ‘Afridi’s new avatar’, given that he was an early favourite. Saad Shafqat’s riveting analysis titled ‘Flamboyance personified’ is not to be missed.

According to the writer, the book was due to be out after World Cup twenty-twenty, June 2009, but now includes figures from the ICC Champions Trophy, making it an updated version designed to give fans their daily Afridi fix in a concentrated dose. Waseem Akram’s words leap out from the back cover stating that a book of this kind was long overdue. Boom Boom Shahid Afridi can be classified as ‘Afridi for beginners’ — more of a guide book through Afridiland with pretty pictures, dry facts and sharp observations, recommended for ages 6-60 and above. For those still smarting under some recent loss or ball tampering controversy, it is a reminder of just how great he can be, when he wants.

Meanwhile, disillusioned fans, struck by the unfairness of it all mutter darkly about the egregious waste of standby talent forced to watch from the wings while Afridi squanders opportunities. They believe that the player has yet to reach his full potential despite his “significant achievements”. At the moment, they are not feeling particularly charitable towards this man. They decry him as a pariah; he refuses to stay marooned on the isle of mortification. They reserve a place for him in the hall of fame; he fails to show. His is a classic tale of love, loss, redemption and some more loss. Out now.

Images Courtesy of: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Sport/Pix/columnists/2011/3/31/1301607062529/Shahid-Afridi-007.jpg

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

BOOK REVIEW: How It Happened

Published in Daily Times / Sat 9 Feb 2013

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
Author: Shazaf Fatima Haider

Thanks to Liberty Books for the (temp) review copy

Gwendolen: I am engaged to Mr. Worthing, mamma.

Lady Bracknell: Pardon me, you are not engaged to anyone. When you do become engaged to someone, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself . . .”
-
The Importance of being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)


Characters chasing ‘happily ever after’s’ are often pulled aside by enterprising elders who try to flag all but the most traditional road to the altar. A fiendishly funny narrative pounces on the retreating figure of Cupid and explores his cultural relevance in the sport they call match-making.

The saga of the Bandian clan comes with a perpetually scandalized, formidable old lady fiercely protective…

Analysis: Survival in the Age of Information Warfare

Published in Global Village Space / Nov 2017?

Pakistani troops recently rescued a US - Canadian family that had been captured in Afghanistan in 2012 and held hostage for 5 years. International media headlines however were not all laudatory; they editorialized, and dabbled in innuendos undermining a successful mission and the men who risked their lives to bring the captives home. This is not the first time the West glossed over an ally’s achievements. And it will not be the last, since negative spin is invaluable for propping up pre-prepared narratives, advancing agendas; shaping perceptions, reinforcing stereotypes, driving ratings and controlling the message.

Because dictatorships do not have monopoly over information warfare – everyone has a dog in the race and the fake news juggernaut appears unstoppable in the age of social media and instant messaging. And while traditional methods remain relevant in the game of deception, the advent of social media has only expanded their reac…

Analysis: Pakistan’s Contributions for the Uplift of Afghan People

Published in Global Village Space / Nov 2017?

Pakistan and Afghanistan have history. And it is not all good. They have a shared border – though its legality has been contested. They also managed to forge a united front against the Soviets and achieved the impossible. It is a rare moment of solidarity and teamwork.

The final round of the Cold War fought in the badlands of Afghanistan altered the timeline since then and as the Afghan state veered off course – the impact was felt on neighboring nations. It led to an influx of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the emergence of Taliban, the fracturing of the Afghan socio-political structure and opened a breach in the global security.

All this is in the past.

Pakistan and Afghanistan may have been brothers in arms with shared borders and traditions and historical ties, but despite their time spent in the trenches, Pakistan’s economic value as a trade portal for a landlocked region or its place as host to millions of refugees and the biggest s…

BOOK REVIEW: DIARIES OF FIELD MARSHAL MOHAMMAD AYUB KHAN 1966-1972

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
PUBLISHED IN THE POST AUG 29, 2007

Books allow people to have their say. Diaries express what they actually meant. Therefore, every prominent personality must stray from the path of political correctness and leave behind a diary. One way to regain an insight into the defining moments of our history post ‘65 War would be through the diaries of Pakistan’s first military ruler and first C-in-C, Field Marshal M. Ayub Khan, who also authored the book, ‘Friends. Not Masters’. The personal lives of public figures are always intriguing; while their contemporaries indict/acquit them on consequences of their actions, diaries give individuals a rare shot at swaying the upcoming generation of juries. Recorded during the uneasy calm before an inevitable storm brewing on the Eastern horizon and Indian front, the entries, spanning 7 years from September 1966 - October 1972, are replete with shrewdness and candor of a narrator who observed the events initially as a key player…

VIEW: WOMEN in the PAF: AN ENSEMBLE CAST

PUBLISHED in HILAL (Pakistan Armed Forces Magazine) Feb 2010

By Afrah Jamal

Progressive - Conservative - Contemporary - Professional; separately these terms could apply to any service; together they were reserved for just one - the PAF.

Pakistan Air Force has kept in touch with its roots through its glorious traditions and kept up with the changing times with innovative thinking. Oftentimes, traditions that made it stand apart have also stood in the way of, well - progress. Consequently, the service nimbly skipped past the one proposed change that was going to have a profound effect on the lives of countless young girls and would forever alter the way society perceived their womenfolk.

Before 1994, Lady Officers were a rare sight in the PAF. So rare in fact, that when male cadets donned wigs to represent the female species in annual variety shows, nobody wondered why. By 2010, women have become an indispensable part of the service. While, PAF was no stranger to a woman in uniform, a f…

Analysis: Afghanistan – An Actual Safe Haven – Part I

Published Global Affairs / Dec 2017?

The longest war is going according to plan; but whose plan exactly?
Not Washington - bogged down in a never-ending nightmare. Or Kabul - besieged and battered, barely holding its head above water. Not Pakistan, a frontline state suffering blowback and living under the weight of America’s expectations - and uncalled for accusations. The dramatic shifts in the geostrategic dynamics are not reflected in Washington’s stance towards Islamabad nor are they inclined towards the multiplayer great game unfolding in the backdrop with Russians, Iranians, Taliban, Indians, Chinese, ISIS and its Coalition forces.

Mission Rebuild Afghanistan

In the backdrop are nations used as pawns to keep Cold War allies or emergent threats in check. On the side are non-state actors wielded as weapons to thwart ambitions and counter bigger threats like ISIS. And at the centre is a strategy that offers a patchwork quilt of something old, something new, something borrowed to s…

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan: Beyond The ‘Crisis State’ / Author: Maleeha Lodhi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Published under the title: 17 Reasons to Hope

“History will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, history will have its revenge and retribution”— from the movie, ‘Good Night, & Good Luck’

A region known for most “terrorist sightings”, a place feared for harbouring medieval mindsets next to progressive thinkers and a nation shunned for having an affinity for nuclear toys. By turns a cautionary tale, an indispensable ally and an international pariah, Pakistan does not fit into any mould — for long. But its name crops up whenever things go awry.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ is a compilation of articles put together by Maleeha Lodhi that countermands the grim prognosis. When Ms Lodhi, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and UK, acknowledges that “resilience has been part of Pakistan’s story from its inception, obscured by the single issue lens…