Who is Shahid Alfridi? On the street of Pakistan, he is a modern, Islamic demi-god. In a London pub quiz, he is a cricket statistician’s outlier, defying odds, traditions and averages. In a Mumbai living room, he is ‘the other’, the flagrantly talented, in-your-face belligerent Pashtun warrior, the one Pakistani who has been frequently fined, often beaten but never vanquished, on or off the field.
Alfridi is a conflicted hero from a conflict zone. His is not Tendulkar’s Shining India the perpetual good guy of world cricket, whose bestseller opened up a very private life, nor Khan’s Pure Pakistan by way of Keble College, Oxford, the game’s most dynamic all rounder. His is the Pakistan of the Taliban, of Al Qaeda, of Matchfixing, of Ball Tampering, of Complex Attacks on the Sri Lankan Team, of Rape Scandals and International Bans and Dope Test Failures.
Afridi’s tale is more Kabulesque than Kolkattaish, and he is more Af-Pak than Indo-Pak. He happens to be a tribal from that widely-declared ground zero of global terror – Pakistan’s Federally Autonomous Tribal Areas. Afridi’s complex life and multifaceted career will be mapped through a personal journey with the man himself. From his humble beginnings in the northwest of Pakistan, to the rough streets of Karachi in the 1980s. His school days, which were spent bunking classes for the sport, are not disconnected from the rise of organized violence in Pakistan’s dangerous megacity where he admits to hanging out with thugs after late night street matches. The book will go on to cover his role in the match-fixing scandal and how he survived it while calling others out, only to come back stronger. As The Cricket Monthly assesses, at home he “is revered not for his achievements but for his promise. Afridi is the last folk hero, a man loved by his people because he doesn’t live how they should but rather how they do.”