Shaheen Shah Afridi, the Pakistani speedballer, recently took a swipe at former speedster Shoaib Akhtar’s controversial “brand” statement involving fan-favorite cricketer Babar Azam. The affair is quite well-known and has garnered Akhtar great criticism for his comments on the skipper’s speaking skills from Babar’s fans.
As soon as the comments became viral, Babar’s fans and supporters started to troll the former pacer. The prolific batter had received support not only from fans but also from various co-players and former cricketers alike. This time around, Pakistan’s pace sensation Shaheen showed support for his captain in an indirect way during an interview with a local channel, taking a cheeky dig at the former paceman for his demeaning comments.
When the interviewer asked which quality of Shoaib Akhtar does he like, Afridi smilingly said: “[Akhtar] makes a brand very well.” A meme video of this part of the interview is going viral on social media.
Akhtar in an interview had questioned Babar’s inability to emerge as the “biggest brand” of the country amid a stellar cricket career. “I want to openly say that Babar Azam should be the biggest brand in Pakistan, but why hasn’t he become the biggest brand in Pakistan? Because he can’t speak,” he had said during a TV show. “Cricket is one job, and handling media is another. If you can’t speak, I am sorry, but you won’t be able to express yourself on TV,” he added.
He had said that he did not intend to disparage Babar Azam, who “needs to improve himself if he wants to be a big brand”. Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is known for mincing words when criticizing players for their on-field performance and what they do off-the-field as well. Last month, Akhtar criticized Pakistan skipper Babar Azam’s communication skills. He also questioned Afridi’s intent as he left the field in the T20 World Cup 2022 final against England after getting injured while taking a catch.
Afridi returned to international action after regaining fitness in the ongoing five-T20I series against New Zealand. He returned to competitive cricket in Pakistan Super League (PSL) where he showcased his big-hitting skills for Lahore Qalandars. “Ye tha vo moment jahan par aap superstar ban sakte the. Agar main hota, to main Pakistan ke liye mar jaata. Mai tod deta ghutna, ghutna jud jayega baad mein. Ye lamha vapas nahi aata. (This was the moment, where you could have become a superstar. Had I been in his place, I would have sacrificed my life for Pakistan’s sake. I wouldn’t care if my knee broke, it would have healed again. But, this moment would have never come back again),” Akhtar was quoted as saying by Suno TV.
The injury not only ruled him out for the remaining of the final, but he was also out of the crucial home Test series against England and New Zealand. In his absence, Pakistan did not have a pace-bowling spearhead, and they failed to make it to World Test Championship (WTC) 2021-23 final.
The 23-year-old has been impressive in the T20I series against a second-string Kiwi side. He took a wicket in the first T20I and followed it up with an economical spell in the second game.
Overall, the controversy surrounding Shoaib Akhtar’s comments about Babar Azam’s speaking skills has caused quite a stir in the Pakistani cricket community. Shahe