New Delhi: Pakistan legend Shahid Afridi made his name both with his cricketing skills and his on-field antics. Afridi smashed a 37-ball century which was a record that held for 18 years.
However, the allrounder’s career wasn’t just about hitting big sixes, scoring fast centuries, or confusing batters with his leg-spin. Afridi also hit the headlines for breaking the law as he tampered with the ball and the pitch on two different occasions.
What made these incidents even more astonishing is the fact that they happened in an era when dozens of cameras would be trained on the players at all times at the venue and despite being aware of this, Afridi still went ahead with his antics.
Umpire bans Shahid Afridi after pitch tampering
Afridi’s pitch tampering resulted in the referee banning him for one Test and two ODIs. During an interview, Afridi opened up on the 17-year-old incident, recalling how a cylinder blast at the venue gave him the chance to create a patch on a pitch that was offering nothing to the bowlers.
He said to have discussed his intentions with teammate Shoaib Malik who encouraged him citing the fact that others were focused on the blast.
“That Test was in Faisalabad. The ball wasn’t turning, no seam or swing either. It got boring. You are bowling with your full strength but it’s not turning or skidding. So, there was a gas cylinder that exploded forcing everyone to turn their attention towards it. Shoaib Malik and I were talking. I said ‘Malik, I so want to create a patch for myself so at least the ball turns’. He replied, ‘Boss, go ahead. Nobody is looking.’ So I did it,” Afridi recalled.
Years later, Afridi would give the world a famous photograph where he was seen biting the cricket ball during a T20I against England, resulting in a two-match ban. He was found guilty of “changing the condition of the ball in breach of Law 42.3 of the Laws of Cricket”.
Afridi recalled how Naved-ul-Hasan, his teammate, complained about the ball doing nothing and so he bit the ball on a couple of occasions to change its condition.
“Rana come on, we have to win this match. He complained about the ball not swinging. I said let me try and so…” he said.