I’ll postpone judgment on Pakistan’s supposed renaissance until I see their batsmen play tomorrow. You have to wonder whether a line-up that boasts only one person with an average above 40 can survive the likes of Doug (E. Fresh) Bollinger and Mitchell Johnson. That too on Lord’s, under cloudy weather.
But still! Shahid Afridi looks like he’s working wonders; as Barack Obama once said, “Change comes from the top.” He showed a clear sense of purpose with an attacking field (was that five fielders I counted in the slips?), and he kept at it even as Michael Clarke and Simon Katich threatened to do that an annoying Australian thing where they don’t give up.
And Afridi seems to know his men. During the second T20 against Australia, Shoaib Akthar, an antagonist to all who come before him, finally got a wicket after his return to cricket. Afridi was among the first to run up and hug him, and if you watch the highlights, it was a real bear hug — you could almost hear the thump of chests. It’s hard to think that Afridi, a guy who started playing cricket in his teenage years and has tried to sabotage a cricket ball and a pitch, will make for an excellent captain. But so far, he has done things right — perhaps the drive to win (as evidenced by his rule-breaking) trumps all his other weaknesses.
Now let’s see ’em bat.