Afridi should pay and play
Pakistan and South Africa might not have played much international cricket against each other but when it comes to controversy they are sure making up for the Apartheid years. Now Shahid Afridi will sit out the rest of the one-day series cursing his stupidity. Whatever provocation he received from the spectator - and Chris Broad was right to speak to Cricket South Africa about the abuse of Afridi - there is no excuse for thrusting a cricket bat at anybody.
Afridi's behaviour was dangerous and irresponsible and he deserves to pay the price. But at the same time he also deserves to play in Pakistan's World Cup campaign, which luckily begins with two official World Cup warm-up matches. This means that Afridi could well be available for the opening encounter of this year's World Cup, the match against West Indies, if the warm-up matches count. At worst, Afridi will miss only one crucial World Cup match, the other being against Ireland.
Afridi, like any good spinner, is maturing with age and the spin option he offers means that he has more than one reason to be in the team. Pakistan should back him for the World Cup as a bowling allrounder with the ability to turn a match on its head with bat and sometimes ball. The wickets in West Indies should suit him.
The World Cup is rapidly opening up with Australia's blip in form. Pakistan have a real chance if all their main players are fit and available. Afridi is a vital element of Pakistan's attack force, and with the current strategy of batting right down to number nine or ten Afridi has greater licence to free his mind and swing.
If the PCB and Afridi have any sense they will accept the punishment, forget about an appeal, and get Mr Boom Boom ready for the Caribbean.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here