There are the greats.
There are the legends.
And then there are those sportsmen who transcend labels, those who represent something greater than merely excellence in their respective disciplines.
Jessie Owens. Mohammed Ali.
And Shahid Afridi.
For me, and dare I say for many others, Afridi is not just merely a ball-biting, pitch-scuffing, boom boomer that wears the jersey of our next door bomber.
He is the very anthropomorphism of its foreign policy.
Like when he sticks out his crotch after getting a wicket, Afridi becomes an emphatic visual metaphor for the Pakistani position of “Yeah so we are going to support the Haqqani Network and other terrorists, so what you going to do about it eh?”
The Pakistani establishment attacks the car windows of the US with vigorous blows, threatening to puncture their tyres or scratch the side with their can-tips unless the Yanks cross their palms with silver. Then after filling their pockets, they turn around, burn the US flag and arm their enemies, before running once again as the US car stops at the light.
Reflecting that defining characteristic of Pakistani foreign policy, Afridi can be found aggressively insisting on playing in the cash-rich IPL (not for himself, as he adds, but for other Pakistani cricketers)and then abusing Indians for not being big-hearted enough, at least not in comparison to Pakistanis, when rebuffed.
Both of them share the same love for the unvarnished truth—the Hindu-Zionist conspiracies, India stage-managed 26/11, India lost to Pakistan in every war and that Afridi was sixteen when he first burst onto the cricketing arena.
And together, they are responsible for two of the greatest laugh-out-loud lines of modern times, morbidly ironic because of the mouths they come out of and their track records.
The first is ” We are fighting terrorism”.
And the second is, of course, “I retire”.
Welcome back Shahid Afridi. We missed you.