I am available to play for Pakistan: Afridi to selectors

LONDON: Pakistan’s former T20 skipper Shahid Afridi on Thursday made an unequivocal offer regarding his availability for the national team. In an interview with BBC South Today, the 35-year-old said, “If they [Pakistan] want me later in the summer, then I’m available.” Afridi, who captained Pakistan in the ICC World T20 earlier this year, said he is satisfied with the young cricketers taking precedence over him in the national side. 

“I’ve told the selectors it’s fine to keep me away and to see where the youngsters are standing.” 

The flamboyant all-rounder believes English conditions will present a great challenge for youngsters who will be accompanied by veterans Misbahul Haq and Younus Khan in July.

“No doubt English team is one of the best,” said Afridi. “They are playing well in their own conditions; the way [James] Anderson and [Stuart] Broad are bowling. It will be a big test for youngsters who are coming with the Pakistan team; there are big challenges ahead of them. We have Misbah, he is leading the team very well with Younus Khan on his side.”

After Pakistan’s deplorable run in the Asia Cup T20 and WT20 tournaments, Afridi stepped down from the captain’s position when criticism mounted against the team’s abysmal performance. He received severe criticism for his ineffective on-field tactics by fans and from then team manager and head coach. 

In his post-WT20 report Intikhab Alam stated, “much to our chagrin [Afridi] was a captain in his farewell event after a career spanning nearly 20 years, yet absolutely clueless in terms of on-field tactics and off-field leadership,” Waqar Younis recommended to keep Afridi away from the team in his report that was leaked out to the media resulting in a strong protest by the former.

Younis stated, “We lost to New Zealand, Asia Cup and the World T20 due to poor captaincy. Over several occasions, I had made it clear that Shahid Afridi was not performing with the bat, ball or as a captain but I was not listened to.” 

Eventually Afridi opted to step down from the post and to Twitter, to announce his decision. Afridi is gearing up for the famous English domestic shorter-version competition, T20 Blast. The right-hand batsman will don Hampshire colours for the tournament. The flamboyant all-rounder retired from Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODI) in 2010 and 2015 respectively. Pakistan will play England in a one-off T20 International on September 7 under their new captain, Sarfraz Ahmed.

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