Imran Khan will make a return of sorts to cricket – as mentor to Peshawar Zalmi. Franchise owner Javed Afridi says the former great will “provide vision” to the Shahid Afridi-led team. “Mr Imran Khan has signed on as a mentor to the team.
We are extremely pleased with the association of Peshawar Zalmi with him,” Afridi told this correspondent over email.
“Who has not heard of the great Mr Khan, he is perhaps the greatest cricketer to have come out of not only Pakistan, but is one of the greatest of all time worldwide.” In a way, it is only fitting that the man who inspired a generation of young Pakistanis with the country’s sole World Cup title in the 50-over format is also associated with a team that has made “youth” its byword. Afridi dwells on this fact as well. “Zalmi stands for the ‘youth’ of our land, and who better to have to look up to as a mentor than the real life super cricket hero Mr Imran Khan himself?”
However, Afridi brushed aside suggestions that a political message could be read into Imran Khan’s association with his franchise, saying the affiliation was “a purely cricketing matter”. Afridi said the founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is a great role model for aspiring athletes, and “his record and value as a sportsperson is unmatched”. “Imran Khan much before he was one of the leading politicians in the country was a cricketer that has served this nation to the best of his immense capabilities,” he said. “There is no political association here,” Afridi asserted. “Those who think of it that way will do a disservice to both Mr Imran Khan’s great cricketing legacy and insight, as well as the vision and intention behind this move by the Peshawar Zalmi.”