Farewell match plans for Afridi dropped by PCB

Plans to allow allrounder Shahid Afridi to play in one final T20 series/match for Pakistan before announcing his retirement from all international cricket have been dropped by the PCB.

Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi.

A well-informed source in the cricket board told PTI that PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan, who is in London recuperating from a heart ailment and chief selector, Inzamam-ul-Haq had both given approval for Afridi to be picked in the T20 squad for the coming series against the West Indies.

“Yes it is correct that a decision was taken and approved by Shaharyar and Inzamam that Afridi would travel to UAE as the 16th player and appear in a final match against the West Indies before announcing his retirement and going out gracefully,” the source said.

He said that Inzamam had spoken to Afridi and reached the understanding he would announce his retirement after playing against the West Indies.

But he confirmed that the plan was dropped after a senior member of the board, Najam Sethi, who heads the executive committee, objected to the method being followed to give Afridi a befitting farewell after a long career for Pakistan.

“Sethi made the point that the board would be setting a wrong example by including Afridi as 16th player just to give him a chance to play his farewell international match and it was also not befitting for such a senior player,” the source said.

He said Sethi raised the question that if the selectors felt that Afridi was good enough to play for the country in T20 internationals why didn’t they just select him in the 15-member squad announced for the West Indies series.

“Sethi’s argument is logical and he made it clear that he would speak to Afridi himself and settle the matter. Sethi will now meet Afridi in last week of September and offer him the chance to accept a proper farewell event and announce his retirement,” the source stated.

“Afridi might have played his final match for Pakistan if the plan given by Sethi is followed to the letter,” he added.

The allrounder, who appeared in 398 ODIs and 98 T20 internationals and also captained Pakistan in all three formats, stepped down as skipper after a poor show in the World T20 in India last April.

Inzamam says Afridi deserves farwell match

Pakistan’s chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq believes that flamboyant allrounder Shahid Afridi deserves to be given a farewell match after serving the country for almost two decades.

Inzamam told Pakistani reporters in Dubai on Monday night that Afridi had been a stellar performer and deserved a proper farewell and retirement.

“In my opinion Shahid deserves to be given a farewell match so that he can announce his retirement properly and retire in a befitting manner,” the former captain said.

Inzamam played a key role in convincing the Pakistan Cricket Board to allow the selectors to pick Afridi as the 16th player for the T20 series against the West Indies so that he could play in a match or two and than announce his retirement but the plan has now been dropped by the board.

Afridi for the time being has apparently taken up a new role of an expert for the state owned television sports channel for the limited over series against the West Indies which begins from Friday.

The chief selector also felt that there were lot of things to be put right in Pakistan cricket and this could not happen in three months time.

“There is a lot to be done in Pakistan cricket and things can’t change in a few months time. It will take time and patience to put our cricket on the right path but it will happen,” he said.

Inzamam, who played in 120 Tests, said that he was optimistic about the future as the quality of talent being uncovered in domestic cricket was encouraging.

He admitted that lot of hard work was required to improve Pakistan’s standing in one-day and T20 internationals where the national team is languishing at number nine and eight positions.

“This selection committee has just worked for three months and we have identified lot of improvements that need to be made to our cricket system and structure. But all this will take time and commitment for us to move forward and there will be highs and lows in this path,” he added.

Inzamam is in Dubai to discuss with head coach Mickey Arthur the formation of the Pakistan one-day and Test squads for the series against the West Indies in which three ODIs and three Tests including a day and night match will be played in September and October.

Inzaman said the series against the West Indies would be a tough one for Pakistan since they had some good players and were also the World T20 Champions.

“There is no question of taking the West Indies team lightly as they have always posed a challenge for us and I foresee a close series although we have a clear edge in the Test match format and we are the number one team,” he added.

Inzamam said Pakistan would need to win the Test series to retain their number one ranking as India were playing around 13 Tests in their home international season starting with the series against New Zealand.