Boom Boom Shahid AfridiMartin Chandler |
Author: Noorani, Asif
Publisher: Liberty Books
Rating: 2.5 stars
In my feature about new and forthcoming books in December 2011 I bemoaned my inability to acquire a copy of this book, and in the 18 months subsequent to penning that piece made no progress in my attempts to track down a copy.
Then I suddenly had a change of luck. Karachi based Junaid Latif joined the CricketWeb staff in order to work with the Fantasy Cricket team. In time honoured fashion I greeted him in the staff forum with my usual tongue in cheek request for new staff members located outside the UK, and asked for his help in sourcing the book. Having been told many months ago that Boom Boom; Shahid Afridi was out of print my hopes were not great. I am however reminded of one of my late father’s favourite phrases; “Oh ye of little faith”. Within a fortnight of assigning the task the book dropped through my letterbox, so many thanks to Junaid, a true gentleman.
Having now read Boom Boom; Shahid Afridi I have to concede that my initial description of it as a biography is, in all honesty, stretching the definition of that word just a little too far. A better description would be a celebration of Afrid’s career, with a few biographical insights. The book is not a weighty tome to start with and, well illustrated as it is, it can be read from cover to cover comfortably within the hour. To use a phrase beloved of Archie Mac, it does not outstay its welcome.
Was Boom Boom; Shahid Afridi worth the wait? On balance I would have to say yes it was. For those of us, and there are quite a few, who find that as unattractive as his conduct can be, Afridi is still a cricketer we find ourselves liking and, more importantly, thoroughly enjoy watching, while certainly not being indispensable this is still a book worth tracking down.
Asif Noorani makes it clear at the outset of the book that he is not a cricket writer. I found that a worrying comment, as in my limited experience books published in Pakistan in English tend not to be very well written, but whatever his usual subject might be Noorani is certainly a more than competent editor, and his own contributions, most importantly recording the thoughts of Afridi’s father, and his former captain Wasim Akram, are well presented.
There are a few other short essays, from some diverse sources, and a particularly good one from Saad Shafqat, whose name will be familiar to anyone who reads cricinfo. There is, inevitably in a collection of writings such as this, some duplication, but the different writers look at episodes such as Afridi’s remarkable century in his first ODI against Sri Lanka, from slightly different angles so the repetition does not grate.
Later in the book there are some thoughts from Afridi himself, and an unexpectedly thorough statistical summary. The paper quality is better than is often the case in Pakistani publications, and the choice of illustrations is excellent – there is a particularly good one of the spectacular outfield catch that dismissed Scott Styris at the Oval in 2009 in the ICC World T20.
So there you have it, a lightweight but interesting little book. If Boom Boom; Shahid Afridi does nothing else, it reminds its reader that Afridi is one of the more interesting cricketers that Pakistan has produced, and that when its subject does finally decide to leave the game someone really ought to write a full biography.