Shahid Afridi must be serious about ending his “rough patch” with the bat this time.
At least, that’s what it may seem like as the star all-rounder has decided to enter the first-class arena again after a hiatus of nearly four years.
For Afridi though, the chance to play in the four-day matches in the ongoing President’s Trophy has not come by choice. With no limited-overs cricket being played in the country, the Trophy is the only competitive outing that is on offer.
It will be the ultimate test for the all-rounder, but curbing his attacking and in recent times reckless approach to batting may end up doing some good.
Afridi will represent Habib Bank Limited, after last having played for them in January 2009.
“We understand he [Afridi] has been struggling with his form and obviously he has to play quality cricket to regain it,” a spokesman from HBL told ESPNcricinfo.
“Unfortunately there is no limited-overs cricket being played at the moment and the on-going first-class tournament is the way out for him to get engaged to change his dipping form.”
Afridi’s batting has dipped so much recently that it prompted Former England cricketer Geoffrey Boycott to term it ‘embarrassing.’
“His batting is so bad now, it’s embarrassing. He can’t think, he can’t judge the length, and he’s just a swiper of the ball. It’s appalling to watch him bat,” Boycott said.
“He bats like a tail-ender. It must be frustrating as hell, exasperating, annoying, to all his supporters, his friends, his captain,” he added.
At the recent World Twenty20, Afridi made only 30 runs in six matches, and picked up four wickets at 42.75. In ODIs this year, he has scored 182 runs in 16 matches and taken 15 wickets at 43.13.
Afridi will join the HBL in place of Pakistan left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, who is currently serving his 12 weeks ban for failing a drugs test his stint with Somerset in the English domestic season.