Former Indian captain Rahul Dravid was once asked when he’s going to pen down his own story. To which, he replied there’s no point writing a book if you can’t address issues people expect you touch. We feel Shahid Afridi was lightening to what Dravid had to say about a successful sportsperson or a celebrity writing a book.
And so, the Pakistan cricketing great decided that his autobiography will have it all. Afridi, as a cricketer, brought pleasure and pain in equal measure, but whenever he padded up to bat, or put in a chase as a fielder or took the ball in his hand to bowl, it was one thing Afridi truly dished out was entertainment. Similar to the motto of his game, Afridi stuck to the policy of serving something refreshing and exciting with every chapter of the book. Here, it’s also worth mentioning that the book has been co-written with Wajahat S Khan, a Pakistani journalist.
Game Changer has 38 chapters and there’s something new to learn in each one of them. It has the story of his introduction to the game, and his journey to the national team. Afridi played international cricket for 22 years, so it obviously has countless cricketing recollections. But above all, the book is laden with controversies. Top to bottom. Now we all know that Pakistan cricket has been in a volatile state for a prolonged period, and very little inside information squirts out of what is a hot gas chamber. Afridi has tried to be the game changer with his book.
There are plenty of anecdotes, inside information, personality assessment and blunt opinions in the book. While he has praised former players like Wasim Akram, Inzamam ul Haq, Shoaib Akhtar, the former all-rounder has also trained his guns at the great Javed Miandad, Waqar Younis, Salman Butt, among others.
One of the most interesting anecdote to pop out of the book is the conversation that then-coach Miandad had, in 1999 , with Afridi after the latter’s century had helped Pakistan beat India. After denying practice to Afridi ahead of the match, Miandad threatened Lala to acknowledge him during the presentation.
Proud to finally announce what’s been in the works for a couple of years.
Tried my best to be honest about my run in the greatest game ever. pic.twitter.com/MnXUETbQ4X
— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) April 19, 2019
“Javed’s attitude towards me touched a new low. Before the post-match ceremony, he pulled me aside and said ‘Listen, buddy, you’d better make sure you thank me in the presentation’. I couldn’t believe it.
“That day I lost all my respect for Javed Miandad, supposedly one of the greats of the game but in reality, a small man,” writes Afridi.
Now calling your nation’s greatest batsman a “small man” is quite volcanic in itself but Boom Boom — a nickname given to him by his fans — had something more explosive for his former teammate, Waqar Younis.
“Waqar and I had a history, dating all the way back to his tiff with Wasim [Akram] over the captaincy crown. He was a mediocre captain but a terrible coach, always micromanaging and getting in the way, trying to tell the captain – me – what to do… It was a natural clash and it was bound to happen,” writes Afridi.
With all the no holds barred revelations, it’s important to point out that Afridi has more often than not put himself in the right place during his tales. For example, talking about the farewell match controversy, the 44-year-old finishes the argument with the statement that “all I wanted to do was set a good precedent” to honour the country’s bests.
We must also not forget to mention that the buyers of the book have some bonus for them in store. No, we are not talking about the portrait sized back profile poster. We are talking about the parts where the book shifts from being an autobiography to an opinion piece. Afridi has pretty much discussed everything under the sun that you expect from a cricketer and Pakistan/India citizen.
Apart from talking about the on-pitch rivalry between India and Pakistan, Afridi has indulged a lot into the off the field relationship between the two nations. He has obviously spoken a lot about the politics of Pakistan, compared Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan, talked about the role of Army in governing the nation. But besides all this, Afridi also has quite a lot to say about India, the Kashmir issue and PM Narendra Modi. Not great stuff, basically.
The autobiography will also help a fan or even a neutral to know Afridi and his thoughts better. Whether it’s his repeated mention of his pain of how Pakistan cricket failed to maximise his potential or him sharing his decision to not let his daughters play cricket.
We leave the judgement to you!
While the book has a lot to look forward to, it also comes with certain silly mistakes or factual errors that have avoided the scanner. While Afridi tried to set the record straight about his age, his birth year provided in the book turns out to be wrong. Afridi has said the next editions will have the correct year but we were not that lucky.
Sachin Tendulkar’s example has been sighted by Afridi talking about a perfect farewell. In excitement, Lala said he brought an end to Tendulkar’s career after 2011 World Cup. However, we know that’s not true. Question is, who is going to tell Afridi?
The silly mistakes make you feel for once that maybe Afridi, Wajahat and the publisher were in some hurry, but next moment you realise those mistakes just make the book more similar to typical Afridi innings — a combination of a big bang and few errors.
Also, the book has broken sequences in many phases with chapters oscillating between different time periods. A bit more consistency would have been appreciated.
Regardless of all the faults in Afridi’s stars or his book in this context, Game Changer packs a lot of punch, panache, and proposition. One a sub-continent cricket fan would not regret laying his hands on.