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Afridi retires from international cricket

KARACHI, Pakistan, May 31- Pakistan's Shahid Afridi told AFP on Monday he was retiring from all international cricket, saying he was dejected after being replaced as one-day captain following a fiery clash with coach Waqar Younis.

The 31-year-old experienced difficulties with Waqar during the team’s 3-2 win against the West Indies earlier this month and his public criticism of the coach ultimately led to him losing the captaincy.

"Yes, I am now retired from all international cricket," Afridi said by telephone from London. "I am dejected and hurt and whatever I said about the coach it was in the best interest of the team."

Afridi, who took over as Test and one-day captain last year, abruptly retired from the longer version of the game after a heavy defeat against Australia at Lord’s in July 2010.

He then led Pakistan to two one-day series defeats against England and South Africa before winning a 50-over series in New Zealand and guiding the team to the semi-finals of World Cup 2011 where they lost to eventual champions India.

Afridi lashed out at Waqar on his return from the West Indies.

"Everyone should do his job and should be accountable for his work," said Afridi, reportedly irked at Waqar’s interference in team selection.

When asked about his reported problems with the coach, Afridi replied: "The differences are not at a stage where they cannot be resolved."

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Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) took heed of the public criticism and served a show cause notice to Afridi before announcing that Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq would lead the team in two one-day matches against Ireland.

Pakistan won the series 2-0 under Misbah on Monday.

Afridi, who withdrew from the Ireland matches due to his father’s illness in the United States, said he was roughly treated by the PCB.

"I play for my country and for my people," he said. "I led the team to the semi-final of the World Cup but the reward was such that I was not sure about my captaincy."

Afridi said his decision to retire was final, as he would not play under the current PCB, headed by chairman Ijaz Butt, but hinted at a comeback if there was a change in leadership.

"This current board treats players roughly and I will not play under this set-up. But if this set-up is changed only then will I consider coming back because I have always played for my people and will play for them."

Afridi said he had battled against the game’s match-fixing menace and had put a disjointed Pakistan team back together.

"When I retired from Test cricket and sensed spot-fixing in the team, I fought against it and after the fixing episode united the team which was broken and divided," said Afridi, referring to last year’s fixing scandal in England.

That controversy, related to last year’s Lord’s Test against England, ended in lengthy bans on former Test captain Salman Butt and pacemen Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer.

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Afridi, who still holds the record for the fastest one-day hundred, scored off 37-balls against Sri Lanka at Nairobi in 1997, was the joint leading wicket-taker with 21 in this year’s World Cup, with India’s Zaheer Khan.

The burly all-rounder scored 6,695 in 325 one-dayers and took 315 wickets as a leg-spinner. He has a tally of 1,716 runs and 48 wickets in 27 Tests.

He also holds the record of hitting most sixes in all one-day cricket with 289.

Afridi finished as player of the tournament in the first two editions of the World Twenty20, in 2007 and 2009, helping Pakistan to the title in the latter tournament in England.

"I served the country to the best of my ability but did not deserve this treatment. I wanted to leave cricket on a happy note, but that did not come about," he said.

Former captain Asif Iqbal said Afridi’s retirement was disappointing and said PCB chairman Butt should be seen responsible.

"It is yet another disappointing episode in Pakistan cricket and the blame goes to Butt who took an arbitrary decision (of replacing Afridi)," said Iqbal.

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