Left-arm pacer was picked by Lahore Qalandars as an emerging player in third season of PSL after an impressive show in the 2018 Under-19 World Cup
Former cricketer and Lahore Qalandars head coach Aaqib Javed was taken aback after discovering left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi’s eyesight issue when he initially arrived on the cricketing scene.
Afridi was picked by Lahore Qalandars as an emerging player in third season of PSL after an impressive show in the 2018 Under-19 World Cup.
Javed, who was also joined by Lahore Qalandars Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Atif Rana in an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan, recalled how he spotted the aforementioned issue during a practice session at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Academy in Dubai.
"During a practice session at the ICC Academy, when all our players were practicing long catches, Shaheen’s response was a bit different compared to everyone else. He was moving a little late. So I asked him after the session if there is any issue with his eyesight. He said he used to have an issue but can still play. So we decided to get his eyesight checked. We were shocked after getting his report, as the number on his one eye was 5.6 and other one was 2.5. We were surprised to see him play cricket with such weak eyesight. Your eyesight is so important while fielding or when aiming to hit certain spots on the pitch while bowling. Then we decided to get him some contact lenses which worked," said Javed.
The former cricketer also revealed how Shaheen wanted to quit cricket after going for runs in his first few matches in PSL and demanded a meeting with the Qalandars owners.
"He was only 17 when he first represented Qalandars. He had a few bad games initially, so he came to me and said that he doesn’t want to play cricket anymore and I want return the money Qalandars’ owners have invested on me. I told him that anyone can go for runs and that one day he will become a superstar. We rested him for a couple of games and then brought him back against Multan, where he took five wickets. It is all about believing in talent and providing them an opportunity," he said.
Meanwhile, the Lahore Qalandars CEO also heaped praise on Javed for providing opportunity to talented youngsters and guiding them to their full potential.
"Cricket Australia is recognising the work that Aaqib Javed has done with Lahore Qalandars for last four years, but his own country is not ready to accept it. Australian cricket system is very strong and our current Prime Minister always gives their example. In that strong system, our three players have made their mark. First Usman Qadir played there, then Haris Rauf and now Dilbar Hussain will represent Melbourne Stars again this upcoming season. So Aqib Javed has done a lot for this country despite being outside the system," Rana said.
Rana also believes that the current PSL financial model is heavily skewed in PCB’s favour and needs some alterations for the league to sustain.
"Our relations with PCB are fine. There is only a difference in approach. When Najam Sethi started this league, his intentions were honest but there were some issues in the execution. The initial contract between PCB and franchises was one sided. Then Najam Sethi had assured us that he will change it but first let the league be launched. He said he will make a separate company that will sort out the issues but then he left PCB and Ehsan Mani took over, who also agreed that this contract is one sided. But the challenge is to address this issue and that’s what all of us are trying to do collectively. The aim is to come up with a solution that is a win-win for all parties, so that the PSL brand continues to flourish,” he concluded.