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The voices inside Afridi's head.

by Gaurav Sethi

One day when I was rambling about this and that, K asked me, “Gaurav, do you always have so many thoughts running through your head?” I replied in the affirmative, and continued to ramble on, how I loved to be ON all the time. She nodded, in hindsight now, in a somewhat sympathetic poor you, you gotta put up with your constant tick-ticking. I have always wondered about Shahid Afridi’s attention span, how small it is, or if it exists at all.

"I hit that big six you know auntie always tells me Kamran dropped it very nice kebabs the way I am senior Karachi and Lahore are forget England I like to watch Bollywood movies especially long drives in my new car to retire" – Afridi mindscape, impression  

From the early years, when he used to open the batting and go downright Mad Max, he seems to have mellowed into an eccentric old uncle whose pyjamas fall as he repeats three anecdotes (one for each format) simultaneously. At his peak as a player, all that energy went into cricket – breaking records, filling India’s new ball bowlers with fear, and always holding a threat that he was far more than he actually was. And that was the cricketing dare of Shahid Afridi.

In the last few years though, Afridi became a parody account of his former self. His retirements started to sound like a senile man’s joke – Boom Boom became the joke joke, there was always an encore to it. And he retired with such earnestness, only to return with equal earnestness, retiring and un-retiring from one format or the other, it became tough to keep tabs on which parody account was still active. What this did do though was spawn an assembly line of cheap Afridi memes and jokes; it was like they were Made in China. Hell, all you got to do is watch Afridi bat, talk, whatever, it’s funny enough, you cannot top that. Not on twitter, not on facebook, not in this lifetime. It’s like hoping jokes on Jim Carry will be funnier than Jim Carry. Cannot be, so don’t even try. In a way, I’m glad, and hope Afridi has retired for good, won’t see any of the tripe anymore. Or maybe I’m just jaded, and can’t make any Afridi jokes anymore. How I longed for an original Afridi joke – one that was nothing to do with his age. And that’s when Afridi allegedly said, Thanks My Nigga to Mark Nicholas.

Once upon a time, I too would make Afridi jokes about his age. This one’s from November, 2011, after one of his many comebacks. 

But all the age jokes pale in comparison to an observation made fielding at square leg – claiming he saw Sachin’s legs trembling while facing Shoaib Akhtar (who claimed Sachin was scared of him). This cartoon is from October, 2011, with Shoaib Akhtar, Afridi and Sachin taking a leak together.

Making fun of Afridi’s grasp on the language was always fun, here’s one on how he claimed the captaincy.

Only recently Afridi wore earplugs to block the crowd noise and up his concentration, even joking that he wished to keep them on when anyone spoke to him, especially the captain. Glad he didn’t resort to the plugs earlier in his career; more than his runs and wickets, Afridi was about a superhero-comic bond with his manic fans. Though I doubt the BOOM BOOM shrieking fans were the trigger; Afridi was both the trigger and the gun. One that he pointed way too often to his mouth. But when heroes go down, they go down fast.

Thank you for the madness, Shahid Afridi. Next, standup commentary please. Hopefully during this IPL. Just imagine Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar rapping together.

First published in daily O

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