Cricket Cricket

Afridi in Pakistan comeback


KARACHI, Pakistan, October 18 – All-rounder Shahid Afridi on Tuesday reversed his decision to retire from international cricket, saying he wanted to play for Pakistan since the chairman of the cricket board has been replaced.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari last week appointed banker Zaka Ashraf chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to replace Ijaz Butt, who had developed serious differences with Afridi in May.

“Since the board chairman has changed, I take back my retirement decision and am available to play for Pakistan,” Afridi told reporters. “I had said I will never play with Butt as chairman, so things have changed now.”

The 31-year-old all-rounder announced his retirement from international cricket after being dumped as one-day captain following a row over selection with team coach Waqar Younis while on tour in the West Indies in May.

Afridi had also wanted Waqar and manager Intikhab Alam replaced.

Waqar quit last month citing health problems and Alam has been made director in the PCB, changes which paved the way for Afridi’s return.

When he retired, the PCB suspended his central contract and revoked permission for him to play abroad. Afridi then went to court, but the dispute was resolved after a private meeting with Butt.

Afridi appeared before a PCB disciplinary committee and was fined $53,000 but his permission to play abroad was reinstated.

Afridi, who starred with the ball for Hampshire in the Twenty20 earlier this year, said he was in peak physical condition.

“I have been playing regular cricket and want to play the one-day series against Sri Lanka as I am in good shape and have been working hard on my batting and bowling,” said Afridi.

Pakistan is playing Sri Lanka in the first of three Tests, which began in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. They will also play five one-days and a Twenty20 during the series, relocated to the United Arab Emirates over security fears.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq last month said he was ready to welcome Afridi back to the team.

“First he has to make a decision over his retirement, then the matter will go to the PCB and only after that I can decide. He has been playing well and has enough cricket left in him,” he said.