Cricketer Shahid Afridi on Monday refuted the rumours of his retirement from the sport. There were speculations that the celebrated cricketer bid farewell to the sport when he did the lap of honour following Multan’s last game of the season. Afridi said that he did it because he wanted to meet the cricket fans.
“Let me tell you…I haven’t bid farewell to the game. I am still playing at the moment,” he said while answering a question regarding his retirement after the Pakistan Super League 2019 fixture between Multan Sultans and Lahore Qalandars in Karachi. “I don’t know which team I will represent next year but I will be playing.”
The HBL-Pakistan Super League has given the Pakistan team a host of young and talented cricketers. The likes of pacer Hasan Ali, spinner Shadab Khan, middle-order batsman Asif Ali and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf have consolidated their place in the Pakistan line-up after emerging from the PSL.
However, former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has other ideas.
The flamboyant Afridi believes the practice of bringing in young cricketers into the national side’s set-up based on their performances in the PSL, should be discouraged.
“I think we are rushing them [youngsters] into the national team set-up. Getting the Pakistan cap has been made too easy,” said Afridi.
The super star all-rounder urged the national selectors to consider more experienced players instead of freshly spotted talent with the World Cup set to be held in England this summer.
“We have many more experienced cricketers who have performed consistently in the first-class circuit and for Pakistan too,” said Afridi.
“Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz, for example, are good players. You can’t keep youngsters above them because the World Cup is approaching. Good talent should be put into academies and given chances in the ‘A’ team.”
It seems that Pakistan’s team management has focused all its attention towards the World Cup 2019, evidenced by their decision to rest 6 key players for the ODI series versus Australia later this month. However, this move has not settled well with former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, who questioned the logic behind this.
Pakistan have rested six players for the Australia ODIs. All six form the core of the national side. The Australians, who have been in blistering form in their ongoing ODI series against India, will be therefore facing a weakened Pakistan side.
Afridi said the games against Australia should have been taken as an opportunity to give more practice to Pakistan’s important players ahead of the World Cup rather than resting them for the series.
“Resting six main players for the Australia series, I believe, is not a good decision. It would have been acceptable if Pakistan were playing a lower ranked side. Playing and performing against big sides gives players confidence and this opportunity should have been given to the main players. These players haven’t played 15-20 years of cricket, they are not that old,” said Afridi.
One of the rested Pakistan players is Sarfraz Ahmed, the team’s captain. There have been speculations that the wicket-keeper was rested against his own will.
“If the selection committee, coach and Sarfraz have made a mutual decision to rest the latter, then it is understandable. However, if Sarfraz has been dropped without his own consent then it is very surprising,” Afridi commented.
The 39-year-old praised Sarfraz and urged fans, everyone belonging to the cricketing fraternity and the media to fully support him as the national team’s leader for the all-important World Cup.
“The best thing about Sarfraz is that he enjoys his captaincy and tweaks his methods according to the team he is leading, whether it is the Quetta Gladiators or Pakistan. All Pakistanis should back him fully and Pakistan will hopefully win the World Cup,” said Afridi.
The Pakistan head coach ‘staying calm in the dressing room’ would also help increase the national side’s World Cup-winning prospects, according to Afridi.
“If Mickey [Arthur] stays calm in the dressing room then I think Pakistan will have a chance,” he said.
Afridi made it clear that Monday’s match for the Sultans was not his last outing as a cricketer and that he will be back in the ground for another PSL side if not the Multan outfit.
“It was a great experiencing playing for three teams [Peshawar Zalmi, Karachi Kings and Multan Sultans] and I am happy I got to represent three cities. But it’s not over yet. I’m not sure which team I’ll be playing next year but I’ll surely play,” said the fan-favourite cricketer.