Former captain Shahid Afridi has decided to stand his ground and make no U-turn regarding his decision to return to international cricket after his clashes with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which fined him Rs4.5million for disciplinary breaches.
“Whatever I said, I will not take any u-turn on that,” said Afridi, who on announcing his retirement last month said he would not play international cricket under the current PCB set-up headed by Ijaz Butt.
“I will play domestic cricket if I am available,” he added.
The flamboyant all-rounder said he had decided not to appeal against the fine.
“The PCB took a decision which was acceptable to me, so it’s past for me now,” he said.
Afridi locked horns with the PCB by announcing his retirement from international cricket after being dumped as limited-overs captain, and criticising the current management.
The PCB suspended his central contract and revoked permission for him to play abroad, preventing him from joining Hampshire in the ongoing Friends Life Twenty20 league.
Afridi challenged the decision last week but the matter was settled out of the court following a meeting with PCB Chairman Butt in Islamabad, which followed Afridi’s appearance before the disciplinary committee on Thursday.
The committee restored Afridi’s No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to clear the way for him to play abroad but levied a heavy fine.
Afridi said he hoped to make a fresh start playing for Hampshire and said he would fly to England on Tuesday with a fresh mind.
“The last 15 days were very difficult for me, but I have got the NOC to play in England and hope to put everything behind me, “Afridi told reporters in Karachi.
In the aftermath of the recently concluded controversies concerning Afridi and runaway wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider, the PCB and the players involved have attracted criticism from various quarters.
Pakistan Senate Standing Committee on Sports Chairman Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi, irked by the proceedings of the PCB against the all-rounder and Haider, cited the episodes as a ‘ridiculous fall’ in the country’s cricket.
“The disputes in fact have tarnished the country’s name at large,” Qureshi told The Express Tribune.
The episode of the strained relationship between former captain Afridi and the board and PCB’s bid to resolve the case of Haider’s disappearance from the team hotel some eight months back in the UAE highlights the use of political intervention as a unique factor.
Qureshi stated that interference from political forums in the internal matters of the sports body is proving to be damaging and would not help the game flourish.
“I personally believe that political interference in sports should not be acceptable,” he said. “I know things have been massively politicised in the Afridi-PCB row, which at the end was concluded in a ridiculous manner. While Haider, who defamed the country internationally, escaped with just a minor fine of Rs500,000.”
PCB’s former chairman Khalid Mehmood cited the whole episode a sham and reckoned that the PCB once again mishandled both the cases.
“The PCB once had been complaining against the political pressure it was facing and later on fell prey to the same pressure which is very unfortunate,” Mehmood told The Express Tribune.
Meanwhile, PCB Chief Operating Officer Subhan Ahmed stated that if any player or official was to violate the board’s code of conduct, the PCB will take strict disciplinary action.
“Our viewpoint remains clear: Any and everyone has to submit to the disciplinary process if they have breached any provisions of their Central Contract or the code of conduct for players,” said Ahmed.
He further stressed that the PCB has never compromised on discipline.
“As far as we are concerned, no player or official is above the rules of the board. If anyone breaches the code of conduct he has to face a disciplinary process”. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2011.
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