Butt flies to NZ to resolve captain issue

PCB chief to hold meeting with Afridi, Misbah and management.

Fawad Hussain January 20, 2011

KARACHI: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ijaz Butt has rushed to New Zealand to settle the issue of selecting a captain for the World Cup.

The PCB has not named the captain despite announcing the final 15-man squad for the mega event, starting next month as there officials were divided on whether to stick with limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi or give the leading role to Misbahul Haq, who recently steered Pakistan to a historic Test series triumph against New Zealand.

The PCB chief, who landed in Wellington yesterday, will be meeting with the team management to finally reach a decision. “The chairman will hold meetings with Afridi and Misbah, besides taking input from the team management that includes the coach and manager, to announce the captain,” a PCB official told The Express Tribune.

The official, however, rejected reports that Butt’s trip was solely planned to sort out the captaincy issue.

‘Decision after mutual consent’

The board’s decision to delay the decision drew criticism from various quarters including former greats and team coach Waqar Younis, who claimed that such an action only leads to dispute among the players.

The official, however, brushed aside their remarks and said the chairman’s presence during the series will rid of any such issue.

“The chief’s meetings with Afridi and Misbah are aimed at removing differences, if there are any. The players and management will be taken into confidence before any decision is made so there is no question of a rift.”

Afridi still a top contender

The official felt Afridi, who was previously the certain choice to lead the team in the World Cup, damaged his own case by giving unnecessary statements which created disharmony among team players.

“Many players have complained about Afridi’s comments that prompted PCB’s indecision. Before that he was a certain choice.”

The official, however, added that the experienced all-rounder is still the first choice despite Misbah’s triumphant leadership in the Test series but a change in captaincy could not be completely ruled out.

“Afridi is still the top candidate for captaincy as the board refuses to take any risks at this point.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st,  2011.

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