Shahid Afridi, one of the most popular Pakistan cricketers, has thrown his weight behind the Pakistan men’s national team following their ODI series against England, which concluded with a three-wicket win for the hosts at Edgbaston, Birmingham on Tuesday.
The series gave England a 3-0 series win.
Shahid, who represented Pakistan in 27 Tests, 398 ODIs and 99 T20Is in a 20-year-long and distinguished international career, feels the players need the support of the fans and critics when they are down after a poor performance.
“At present, the players representing the Pakistan national team are the best we have in terms of talent and ability. These players have performed consistently in recent times, in fact, some of them have been performing for a considerable time period. These are our best players, they are the ones whose talent we have to utilise.
“We need to keep them motivated and hungry for success. We need to support the players in tough times, as a cricket fan and former player.
“I can accept the team losing as long as they fight it out on the field. I feel that cricket has changed a lot in recent years. Now, attack is the best defence and there is no way to succeed other than by playing with an attacking intent, especially in the white-ball formats.
“Our players are good at either attacking or blocking. Maybe, we need to find a middle way, especially for the ODI format. All our players need to back their abilities and play on their actual strength.”
Shahid, who played a leading role in Pakistan’s ICC World T20 2009 victory, feels the current side has the potential to match the exploits of the Younis Khan-led 2009 side, especially since the tournament is taking place in the UAE where Pakistan have played a lot of cricket with success against some of the leading teams in the world.
“In the UAE, we have a very good record and have done very well against some top-ranked teams and that augurs well for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Spinners and batters will have a prominent role to play in the UAE conditions. If the ball starts to reverse, then we have the potential of being the very best, if we play to our strength, we have a good chance of winning the tournament.”
Shahid concluded that he remains committed to fitness and cricket, and would continue to play franchise and club cricket as long as he is enjoying the game and remained fit, as this was the desire of his late father.
Shahid also expressed his desire to work with age-group players as a motivator while sharing the experiences of his cricketing journey.
PCB and Shahid Afridi Foundation partnership: Earlier this week, the PCB extended its partnership with Shahid Afridi Foundation (SAF) for an additional two years. As such, SAF will continue to be the PCB’s charity partner for the next two years.
While thanking the PCB, Shahid outlined the work his foundation has done in recent years.
“It is a matter of great satisfaction, pride and delight for me to have this partnership with the PCB as I have a very long relationship with the board that started more than 20 years ago when I first started playing professional cricket.
“For me, SAF projects remain a top priority, we have projects all over the country, I personally have a lot of interest in water projects and education initiatives that we have taken for the underprivileged. I want to work with our children and youth by providing them good education opportunities and also a platform for them to excel in cricket and other sports.
“I owe it to my country and my people, whatever I am today is due to the support and love of my countrymen and that is the biggest motivation for me in my charity work.”
Shahid also thanked cricketers from within Pakistan and all around the world who have supported him in the SAF cause.
“Cricketers not only from Pakistan but from around the world have supported me wholeheartedly in my SAF endeavours. The PCB also provide regular patronage and support through workshops that various coaches and staff works on, I am truly humbled by the support from everyone and it keeps me going as I strive for more.”