The rollercoaster career of Shahid Afridi took a steep dive last night when the all-rounder announced his retirement from international cricket in protest against the ‘treatment meted out’ to him by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Despite leading the side to close series-losses against England and South Africa before beating New Zealand, leading Pakistan to the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup and winning the One-Day International (ODI) series 3-2 in the West Indies, Afridi was sacked as the ODI captain reportedly as punishment for speaking out against the team management.
Afridi confirmed the decision to a private TV channel late last night from England where he arrived from the US in order to fulfil his county commitments.
“I won’t play for Pakistan under the current PCB setup,” said Afridi who pulled out of the Ireland series due to his father’s illness. “Self-respect is something I hold in high esteem and this board has done nothing but downgraded me. I’ve had enough of this and took this decision after careful consideration.”
Afridi, who retired from Test cricket one match into his comeback last summer, did keep the door open for a comeback at a point in the future, citing the immense support he had from the nation and his love for the sport. The all-rounder, while hinting at the omnipresent division in the dressing-room, blamed the “Lahore and Punjab group” for his removal from captaincy, adding that “it made things easier for them”. He was also unhappy with the PCB’s method of appointing captain on a series-by series basis, adding to the instability and insecurity that prevented a strong side from being built.
“I was never given the required confidence by the PCB. I didn’t know whether I’d be captain for the next series or not. I wasn’t asked for input on selection matters. I was punished for speaking the truth [after his return from the West Indies]. I’m the captain, if the media asked the questions and I don’t answer them, who else will?”
While the PCB refused to comment on the retirement, officials of the board and Ijaz Butt’s snub to the captain last week have confirmed that the PCB is in no mood to approach the all-rounder and woe him back into the squad.
“Actions speak louder than words,” a PCB official told The Express Tribune.
“His attitude has been reckless not only on the field but off it as well and I think we need to put our foot down and say that no player is bigger than the board.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2011.