It’s always sunny in Lala land

May 16, 2019

Game ChangerShahid Afridi‘s… well, what exactly? Memoir? Autobiography? Even a book at all? No, it’s an experience: one isn’t to read this as much as one is to experience it, and pass bits of it around on Whatsapp forwards. If that was the intention, then bravo, because one also didn’t go to grounds to see Afridi play as much as to experience the world in his presence.

Accordingly, this is not a review so much as it is notes from the ride.

Do we know his real age?
Yes. No. Maybe.

Who should not read this book
Javed Miandad (“He lives in the past. His shadow is larger than himself. I feel it’s the trait of a weak man.” Ouch.) Gautam Gambhir, who also shouldn’t read Paddy Upton’s book. The PCB (there’s no book in which they come out smelling of roses). Waqar Younis (“He was a mediocre captain but a terrible coach” – zing!). Politicians. Females. Salman Butt. Mohammad Yousuf (yeah, chapter 18, which starts with the midnight conference-revolt against Younis Khan’s captaincy is about you, even if Afridi chooses to not name you).

Who should read this book
Shahid Afridi. He hasn’t.

Who else has not read this book
A fact-checker. The age thing you know about – he tried to reveal his real age only to get the year of birth wrong (1977, not 1975, as he writes, or 1980, as we’ve all recorded). The rest include one that turns up even before the book begins, in Wasim Akram’s foreword: one of Afridi’s finest Test innings – the 141 in Chennai – becomes 144. The most famous six in Pakistan history is so famous everyone should know that it was struck in 1986, not 1987. And Salahuddin “Sallu” Ahmed – absolutely key through Afridi’s career – a multiple-time selector and Pakistan offspinner is not Salahuddin Satti, who is a fairly significant army figure.

There are others – annoying, careless little errors, though equally you might say, it’s very much in the spirit of Afridi to not sweat the details.

Shahid Afridi will join politics once he has (definitively) left the game
Not.

But
He loves politics. Also, he hates politics. Politicians are scum. Politics is a dirty business. He will never get into it.

Actually take his word for it: “I have no political ambitions.” And in the very next sentence: “Actually that’s not true. At the moment, I do not have political ambitions.” Which means that at the moment you finish this sentence, he might. So, yeah, get ready to vote Lala.

Shahid Afridi loves
a) The Army
b) The Army
c) The Army

The Perfect Way to Retire, according to Shahid Afridi
Is to go how Sachin Tendulkar went. Like a hero, he won the World Cup on his home ground in 2011 and walked off into a golden Bandra sunset.

Except. He. Didn’t.

PS: Does this explain why Afridi retires the way he does?

The anecdote you’re not sure how to process
Afridi’s playboy reputation in his younger years was legendary. Surprisingly, given his own transformation since, he gives us a little peek into that time. That time, for example, when a female fan turned up at his house in full bridal outfit, ready to marry him.