Afridi on pressure to bear sons, family debt, Imran advice

Is he interested in politics?

Cricket legend Shahid Afridi believes that it is mostly because of men that women feel they're obliged to have a son in the family.

“Although I’m mostly travelling, I try my best to spend time with my daughters on Eid,” Afridi said on SAMAA TV’s show Sawal hosted by Ehtesham Amiruddin. “I feel blessed to have seen my life change with every one of my daughters.”

The cricketer said he is strongly against men who wish for a son and don’t celebrate their daughters. “It’s prevalent among us Pathans too, tavees (amulets) and all. But I think there’s a special bond between fathers and daughters.”

Afridi’s wife used to feel the couple ought to have a son at first, but when she saw him treating his daughters with the same amount of love and affection, she didn’t think so anymore. It’s mostly because of men that women feel they should have a son, he added. “My wife knows I’m happy with my daughters and love them a lot, so she is content.”

He confirmed that cricketer Shaheen Afridi's family has indeed been seeking his daughter's hand in marriage for two years.

Early days in cricket

Afridi opened up on his early days in cricket and revealed that he was scolded and beaten a lot by his parents for not studying and playing cricket instead all the time.

“When I played under 14 and 18, there was only cricket in my all life,” he said. “I used to sleep in my kit if I had a match the next day because I didn’t want to be late.”

Afridi’s father wanted him to focus on studies, but his brother and cricketers in their neighbourhood, including Haroon Rasheed, encouraged and supported him. “There was no social media at that time, so people showed my pictures in Dawn and Jang to my father and said his son was indeed up to something good.”

Afridi was inspired by former cricketer Imran Khan, who had made it big with his passion and hard work and was known all over the world. “I always used to say to myself that if he could be blessed with such respect then why couldn't I?”

Ups and downs

In 1996, Afridi’s family was Rs10 million in debt after his father invested in the stock market. “The amount mattered a lot in those days. But my father never sought support from anyone in the family even when they offered it.” Afridi saw his father crying and praying on their terrace for two months until things took a turn when he got selected for the team.

“I had the best bowling performance in the West Indies,” he said. “Then Mushtaq Ahmed had an injury and the then captain Haroon Rashid called me up and said I had been selected for batting.” Afridi ended up creating a world record by scoring a hundred in 37 deliveries.

When asked about how he deals with the ups and downs, Afridi recounted how he had almost lost hope after winning the 2009 World T20 (Pakistan vs Sri Lanka).

“I decided not to play cricket anymore,” he admitted. “Shoaib Malik had become the captain and there was a lot of politics going on within the team.”

Afridi was then taken to a buzurg (an old spiritual man) by one his friends whose words the cricketer recalls even today when he is going through a hard time. “He said you’re so worried about your own performance and worldly matters. Just compare your hardships to those of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and you will realise that yours are nothing.”

On fitness and playing with young cricketers

“I have to take care of my fitness,” Afridi said. “It’s not easy to play cricket with youngsters as their fitness is amazing.”

When asked how he feels about cricketers today, including Babar Azam, Afridi said he is the backbone of Pakistan cricket team at the moment and is learning very fast. “But when we started out in 1996, there used to be 14 or 15 stars in a team.” He said cricketers can become stars only by winning matches, and that there aren’t as many stars today as there were back in the day. He called on cricket academies to train youngsters not only in batting or bowling, but communication skills as well.

Afridi denied having a hand in the infamous episode wherein fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar had hit Mohammad Asif with a bat. “Things happen,” he said. “Asif had sided with me in a joke which enraged Shoaib and all this happened. But Shoaib has a very beautiful heart.”

Afridi's favourites

When asked about his favourite Bollywood actor, Afridi said he and Tabu used to talk over the phone at hotels as there were no cell phones. But avoided the question about his favourite Pakistani actors when given such options as Mahira Khan, Mehwish Hayat and Maya Ali.

“I’ve not been following them.” Afridi named, however, Fazeela Qazi and Atiqa Odho his favourite drama stars. When asked what beauty is according to him, Afridi remarked that it is “simplicity”. 

Advice for PM Khan

Afridi remarked that politicians should know that their first and foremost responsibility is to give people their rights. “Imran Khan is stuck in the system,” he said, “and a person or two can’t change it.” Running the country is not like playing a cricket match that requires a team comprising 12 or 13 players, Afridi said, adding that it’s a question of millions of people. He remarked that most of PM Khan’s government has the same members who have been associated with the parties the premier keeps calling "corrupt and incompetent".

“He [PM Khan] gives a lot of explanations,” Afridi said. “It’s about time he left behind [Asif] Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, and focus on what his own people are doing.”

He ruled out the possibility of creating his own political party if he ever ventured into politics and said he is focusing on serving people through his Shahid Afridi Foundation at the moment.

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Shahid Afridi




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