Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Hanif Mohammad and Waqar Younis are considered by many to be the top Pakistani cricketers of all time. No one will dispute their claim but an internet poll on a ‘top 10’ website placed Shahid Afridi at the top of the pile.
There is no doubt that the former captain of the Pakistan national cricket team is up there with some of the best all round cricketers we have ever seen. No player has hit more sixes in the history of one day international cricket than Afridi. He has also held records in Twenty20 international cricket, including the most wickets but recently dropped into second place below Lasith Malinga.
All Afridi’s records are sure to tumble at some point but one thing that seems to stick with sports stars is controversy. Afridi has endured his fair share of controversies over the years including being caught on camera chewing tobacco during a Defence Day event at Rawalpindi, being sued by Master Beverages for violating an agreement and banning his daughters from playing outdoor sports.
However, perhaps one of the biggest admissions by Afridi himself came in his autobiography when he revealed he was 19 years of age when making his international debut for Pakistan. According to records made at the time, Afridi was 16 years of age but in his book, he said, “I was just nineteen, and not sixteen like they claim. I was born in 1975. So yes, the authorities stated my age incorrectly.”
This led to Pakistan being ridiculed and the target of Jokes related to the age or supposed age of some of their players. The admission by Afridi that his age was declared wrongly could have put an end to the age scandal surrounding Pakistan cricket but it appears that is not the case.
Naseem Shah Is the latest young player in Pakistan to be surrounded by an age related controversy. Shah has the makings of being a world class fast bowler, capable of generating speeds of over 140 kph with the ball. A tweet which was released in December 2018 claimed Shah was 17 years old at the time of picking up an injury. the tweet said, ‘Highly rated 17 year old pace bowler Nasim Shah who was signed by Quetta Gladiators for Pakistan Super League has suffered a back injury. He is back in training and hopes to be fit for PSL4.’
It all seemed innocent enough until a picture of an article appeared on the same social platform. In the article, which was published in 2016, former West Indian fast bowler Andy Roberts spoke about a young faster bowler called ‘Nasim’ and how much he liked him as a player. At the time of writing the article, Nasim was 16 years old.
It is believed the tweet above and the article are both talking about the same player and therefore, Shah has actually got younger over time. This is of course impossible and could be a case of age fraud in Pakistan. The International Cricket Council may choose to get involved if this has an impact on official cricket records.