KARACHI: Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has reversed his decision to retire from international cricket and has made himself available to play in limited-overs matches for the national team.
The all-rounder’s decision follows Ijaz Butt’s exit as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman after he completed his tenure on October 8. Afridi said he was fit and ready to join the team again.
Afridi had announced conditional retirement from international cricket nearly five months back after the tour of West Indies where he developed differences with former coach Waqar Younis on the selection of the playing-eleven during the tour. After speaking of his reservations publicly he was issued a show-cause notice by the PCB and was subsequently removed from captaincy.
In protest, the all-rounder announced that he would not play under a PCB set-up that was led by Butt. The board then revoked all his NOCs to play in foreign leagues, a decision challenged by Afridi in court. The PCB later gave him permission to play after an out-of-court settlement.
Now with Butt’s exit and Younis having resigned as coach, the all-rounder has announced his comeback. “I’m available to play for Pakistan,” Afridi told reporters. “I never retired. I only said I wouldn’t play under the previous PCB management. I wasn’t comfortable with them because they didn’t respect players.
“But as the board now has a new chairman and there’s a different team management, it is time to come back.”
Afridi who has not played international cricket since May said he was fit enough to play for the team.
“I’m fit and can play for Pakistan for a few more years,” he said. “I never ran after the captaincy. I just want to represent my country and can play under anyone.”
Meanwhile, former cricketers have welcomed Afridi’s decision to withdraw his retirement.
“It’s a pleasant development,” former leg-spinner Abdul Qadir told The Express Tribune. “Afridi is an asset. The board should utilise him and put any previous misunderstandings behind them.”
Former captain Wasim Akram said Afridi must now enjoy the cricket left in him.
“Afridi can play for Pakistan for a few more years,” he said. “He should help youngsters with his experience.”
Another former captain Moin Khan while terming his retirement decision as an ‘emotional’ one, said Afridi is a star cricketer and the team needed him.
‘Selection not guaranteed’
The all-rounder, who has made himself available prior to the ODI series against Sri Lanka, will not be an automatic choice, according to acting chief selector Mohammad Ilyas, with whom he has not enjoyed good relations in the past.
“He’s a very good cricketer,” said Ilyas. “But we’ll need a clean chit from the PCB before considering him. His selection can’t be confirmed right now.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2011.
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