Shahid Afridi Learns That There Is Never a Right Time for Ball Biting

Craig ChristopherAnalyst IFebruary 1, 2010

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 31: Shahid Afridi of Pakistan is talked to by umpires Paul Reiffel and Asoka De Silva during the fifth One Day International match between Australia and Pakistan at WACA on January 31, 2010 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Paul Kane/Getty Images

If Shahid Afridi isn’t the dumbest guy on the planet, then he’s an absolute cert for a podium finish. In what must have been the century’s biggest brain-fart, Afridi decided to take the gentle art of ball tampering to a surreal and absolutely inexplicable new level by biting the ball.

Exactly how he thought that he could get away with treating the ball like an apple is a mystery. With 26 cameras watching everything that happens on the field, and particularly focusing on him as captain, he was never going to get away with even the sneakiest effort to alter the ball.

To actually fang into the ball so obviously that even the umpires could see it (the TV umpire anyway), beggars belief. Couldn’t he have used the ‘Broad' method of gently caressing the ball with his spikes, or maybe the ‘Trescothick’ method of applying copious amounts of sugary saliva to the ball?

He could have even used the method perfected by his former teammate, Shoaib Akhtar, by using the animal like claw that he had instead of a thumbnail to lift the quarter seam of the ball. In Afridi’s defence, though, growing one of those nails in the middle of a game, may have proven problematic.

Afridi is no stranger to controversy; he got into a bit of trouble for doing what was, in all fairness, a very pretty pirouette on a good length in a test match in England in 2005. Some, including the match referee, called it cheating; however, all students of horticulture realized that he was simply aerating the turf.

The really sad part of all this is that Pakistanis were actually competitive for the first time in this one-day series. In the absence of Mohammad Yousuf, a man whose captaincy is on death row, Afridi had breathed new life into a demoralised and thoroughly despondent team.

For the first time in the series, they had Australia on the ropes when, with five overs to go, Afridi got peckish, the ball got changed, and Pakistan lost their momentum. His actions are a greater sin against Pakistan cricket than anything to do with the rules of the game. If ever there was a side that needed a win, it’s this one.

While his ball-biting prowess may mean that there is probably a role for Afridi in the adult fetish movie industry, he may well have blown his opportunity to replace the beleaguered Yousuf as the full-time captain of the Pakistan cricket side. The whole cricketing world is now the poorer for this one act of stupidity.

It’s a hell of a price.