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Sports

January 9, 2017
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“Cricketers should be part of the cricket board” - Shahid Afridi

“Cricketers should be part of the cricket board” - Shahid Afridi

Most celebrities are not accessible to their fans who can only read about them or see them on screen. However, the Jang Group's initiative ‘Breakfast with Jang’ – which is organized on a monthly basis at a different city – bridge the gap and now people can have a chat over breakfast with people from different fields.

On January 6, 2017, Breakfast with Jang featured Pakistan's favourite cricketer Shahid Afridi - fondly known as Lala by his fans - who spoke candidly with fans and press at a local hotel in Karachi. Shahid Afridi and his fans spoke about different topics including how to bring cricket back to Pakistan - the theme of the event was "Cricket in Pakistan - How to bring the spark back?"

Accompanying Shahid Afridi on the panel were Managing Director at Jang Group Sarmad Ali and Editor Jang Conferences Sikander Lodhi. Sarmad Ali said - and very rightly so - that cricket is Shahid Afridi's and the nation's first love and second religion.

Afridi regaled the gathering by his quick and witty comebacks and there were many light moments which revealed the personality of the legendary cricketer. He also openly gave his opinion to many difficult questions and didn't mince his words.

He said cricketers should be part of the cricket board, since only a cricketer who has played the game will know what the players need and what kind of problems they face during their careers. He said that our cricket board only looks at international cricket, without focusing on the domestic system which means we don't have any players at the local level.

And was why players like Afridi have to play their best even today. "I consider myself to be the best T20 player because there is no one else - that is why we need to have a pool of talent from where players can be picked for the game."

"Sycophants are very dangerous for anyone", Afridi said, "We need to rid ourselves of them to improve ourselves."

"We don’t have any cricket academies, not even in Karachi where players can play." Afridi said.

"When I had to practice to play for T20 I had to shift my whole family to Lahore, which has the only academy. Even after 20 years playing cricket I still have to look for a place to practice." Adding there need to be more academies in different cities all over Pakistan.

Replying to a question about teams visiting Pakistan to play cricket, Afridi said, "We need strong representatives to go to the International Cricket Council to convince them that more international teams should come to Pakistan to play. Until we don't have this, Pakistan may not have any team coming here."

Commenting on the recent performance of National Team, Afridi said he wasn't surprised, "Our pitches are such that our team is only capable of performing in Dubai and Sharjah and are not prepared or used to playing in other countries."

He also highlighted the issue of schools not having playgrounds for players to play any game - including cricket - so where were the talented children going to train. He added that parents should support their children in anything they want to do, support their interests and talents - if a child wants to play any sport they should not only be supported but encouraged.

Laughing at a suggestion that he join politics, Afridi said that he was too outspoken to be in politics. He was more interested in using his celebrity status to help the marginalized communities of Pakistan.

"I am working to provide to the marginalized communities; to give them something in their lives. Recently I went to Sindh where I saw a section of the Hindu community living in the worst of conditions. Their women have to walk several miles to just get water." Afridi said. "We talk about the government providing us grounds but this government has been unable to even provide basic things like water to many people how can we expect it to give facilities for cricket. The Sindh government has to pull its weight and provide good governance and fulfil the basic rights of the people."

Commenting about his 'farewell' match, Afridi said, "The love that the people have given me when I announced my retirement is more than any 'farewell'.

Afridi also took a friendly jab at the media, saying our media has a lot of responsibility to the viewer. "Breaking news doesn't always have to be bad; good news can also be breaking."

- Photo by Junaid

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