HONG KONG: Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has confirmed that the change in leadership at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was the reason behind his decision to reverse his retirement.
Afridi retired in protest after he was stripped of captaincy following the tour of the West Indies earlier this year. A reported rift with then-coach Waqar Younis and the former PCB chairman Ijaz Butt also came into the spotlight. Speaking ahead of the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes event, which starts today, Afridi said the change of leadership at the PCB paved the way for his return.
“I stopped playing because of Butt,” said Afridi. “He has gone now and I am back. I am fit and want to play. The next time I retire will be the last time.”
Afridi added that the new chairman gave hope to the embattled side and took a swipe at the ‘old man’ he replaced.
“The new chairman’s impressive. He’s run a lot of companies, so he knows how to manage people and I hope it will be a good change. Butt was poor during his tenure. If you look at the things that happened, it’s clear he didn’t do a good job. I think he needs to have some rest – he is in his seventies – he is an old man.”
Following Afridi’s decision to retire, the PCB said that he had breached a code of conduct by announcing his retirement and levelling allegations against the board. In response, Afridi launched legal proceedings against the PCB, which were reportedly settled out of court.
The affair was the latest in a line of damaging episodes to dog Pakistani cricket, the most serious being allegations of spot-fixing during last year’s England tour which are currently being heard by a London court.
Afridi also said he hoped the conclusion of a trial relating to spot-fixing allegations, involving internationals Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, would allow Pakistan to step out of the shadow of the scandal.
“Whatever the outcome, it will be an example to our youngsters. It’s time to leave the issue behind.”
Afridi plays in an All-Star team at this weekend’s event alongside former Sri Lanka batsman-turned-politician Sanath Jayasuriya and South African Herschelle Gibbs.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2011.