WHEN Umpire Tim Caldicott raised his finger to give Slough’s Nabil Shah out lbw, 29-year-old Henley left-arm paceman, Tahir Afridi, celebrated his 100th wicket for Henley since joining the Club at the beginning of 2012, writes Robert MacLeish.
The 2012 season saw a period of rebuilding following the departure of Tom Lambert, Steve Naylor and Carl Crowe at the end of the 2011 season.
Top of the list was the need to find a quick and reliable seam bowler and Afridi fitted the bill to a tee, joining Henley from Ealing, a leading club in the Middlesex Cricket League, where he had spent 10 years after his family came over from Pakistan and settled in nearby Greenford.
His arrival immediately paid dividends with a 35 wicket haul in his first season followed by 32 in Championship winning year 2013. So far this year, he has 34 wickets to his name. Along the way there have been some exceptional match-winning performances, notably 5-34 in 2012 when he destroyed Harpenden, 6-31 against Oxford in 2012, 6-34 against Banbury in 2012, 5-15 against Tring Park in 2013 and just recently 7-44 against Gerrards Cross.
These may be stand-out performances, but each week, Afridi is always in the mix taking vital wickets. He is also an impressive batter and can hit a ball a long way. He and club coach Todd Ferguson hold the HCPCL Club record for the ninth wicket (124, not out).
Hard working, consistent and willing to bowl his heart out, Afridi leads the Henley bowling attack and is an ideal mentor and example to Tom Nugent and Matt Carter who are still learning their trades.
And it is that bowling attack that was the foundation for last year’s Championship and if Henley become 2014 Champions, the bowling unit will take the lion’s share of the credit.
During his career, Afridi has played for Middlesex Seconds and Surrey Seconds in 2006/7 and has spent several winters between 2006 and 2009 playing Turf Grade Cricket in Victoria for Mount Beauty and Plenty Valley. In the winter of 2012/13, he played senior club cricket in South Canterbury, New Zealand.
For the last four years, he has been Wiltshire CCC’s professional and this season, Afridi has been highly instrumental in guiding them to the MCCA Championship Final which will take place over four days in early September.
Henley can count themselves extremely fortunate to have a player his calibre, consistency and enthusiasm and look forward to his next 100 wickets for the club.