Afridi to retire from retirements

BCCI wants 3rd & 4th days of Tests played on 1st & 2nd days on SA tour

Lahore: In this season of retirements, stealing the thunder form the India legend Sachin Tendulkar, Pakistan swashbuckler Shahid Afridi today announced his retirement from retirements.

The ‘Boom Boom’ Pathan, who holds the world record on retirements in all the three formats of the game, has written to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) conveying his intention to retire from retirements, and that the forthcoming one-day series against South Africa will his last and final retirement. After that, he will continue to play. In his letter, he said: ‘My decision to retire from retirements is final and firm. I can’t go on retiring for ever.’

He added: ‘After my last retirement, which was as usual at the end of the last series, I could not help ask myself the question whether I was enjoying retiring day in and day out. All the announcements, all the travel to the press conferences, were taking a toll on my health and bank balance’.

Now that he is to retire from retirements, Afridi hoped to spend some quality time with his team, especially away from the field. His last retirement will be after the forthcoming one-day series against South Africa, after that he would be available for selection till the World Cup in 2015 after which, depending on his form and fitness, which he expected to be patchy as ever, the selectors can drop him. ‘But there will be no question of me retiring any more’.

Afridi, known to be the Bradman of retirements among the discerning cricket followers, holds, among others, the fastest retirement in any form of cricket, highest number of retirements in a single calendar year (he repeated the feat thrice), retirement before lunch, retirement before tea and retirement before close of play on a single day, highest number of retirement partnerships and a sum total of 100 retirements in all the three formats of the game put together.

Afridi’s record is expected to stand the test of time, and as Wisden Almanack perspicaciously pointed out after one of his earlier retirements, ‘No one lived up to the age-old adage that winners never quit in the manner Afridi did. Never a winner, he never shied away from quitting at the first given opportunity. As individuals, Pathans are not the retiring sort. To overcome this technical shortcoming and end up with such a retirement record is a testament to the fact that he put hibernation above nation. He verily breathed life into the dying romance of retirements’.

Afridi himself had summed up his cricketing philosophy pretty clearly: ‘The one lesson I have learnt in my international career is when your time is up, you have to gracefully retire and, well, continue playing, By this strategy, you shut down your critics totally, while you can, at peace, focus on your career and also retire again and again and silence more and more detractors’.

Reacting to Afridi’s announcement, former Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider, who retired right after his first full-fledged series, said he (Afridi) was an inspiration to countless youngsters like him who chose to play this game. ‘Those who play this game at the highest level may or may not have a great career. But every one has to retire at some point. But it is only legends like Afridi who manage to leave a mark by retiring at every point,’ Zulqarnain said in an emotion-choked voice.

Meanwhile in India, in the continuing imbroglio between the BCCI and the South African cricket board over the scheduled tour of the former to the latter next month, the BCCI, which had reduced the original three-match Test series to a two-match one, has suggested to Cricket South Africa officials to shift the third and fourth days of the matches to the first and second day and play the first and second days ‘somewhere in the middle’. This bizarre suggestion has left the Cricket South Africa officials nonplussed. But the BCCI seems adamant on this. ‘Usually, the third and fourth day of the matches turn out to be the most interesting. And if we can play them upfront, it will help bring crowds to the stadium and infuse life into Test cricket,’ a source in the BCCI today said.

Asked how could third and fourth day plays be pushed up, the BCCI official said some kind of formula can be worked out, and added, ‘I am sure it will be less ridiculous than the Duckworth-Lewis method, which to this day no one knows how it works. When you compare with D/L method, anything will look reasonable’.

Elsewhere, amidst all this, BCCI president N Srinivasan, in a bold and no-holds-barred interview to a cricket news site, stoutly defended the national cricket body by categorically and candidly saying ‘sub judice’ to every question. ‘Since everything related to the cricket Board is in court, I cannot talk cricket. Perhaps we can discuss the Aadhaar card or the Phailin cyclone,’ Srinivasan willingly volunteered as he bravely took on all queries thrown at him.

(Disclaimer: While they are it, the BCCI should also ask for changing the Chief Justice of South Africa. That can make the entire tour sub judice, and cannot go ahead)