PCB to try to persuade Afridi to reverse 'retirement'
The Pakistan Board says it will try to persuade Shahid Afridi to withdraw his decision not to play any Test matches until the 2007 World Cup.
Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, told the Karachi-based The News "We think he has taken an emotional decision because he has been playing Test cricket regularly now for the last one year. And we are going to speak to him about it and ask him to change his decision."
Afridi announced his 'retirement' from Test cricket recently, citing the increasingly hectic international schedule as the main reason for his decision. But Shaharyar felt Afridi had taken the decision under pressure after failing in a couple of matches.
"The strange thing is that since making his announcement he has been under more pressure because everyone is saying he should also be available for Test matches. Even people in Abu Dhabi who met him told him to take back his decision. So we are hoping he has already realised his mistake."
Various parties have already tried to change Afridi's mind. Bob Woolmer, Pakistan's coach, made an effort to speak to him in Abu Dhabi, in order to persuade him to reverse his decision. Cricinfo has learnt, however, that Afridi remained unconvinced after their discussion. Additionally, Afridi's hometown cricket association, KCCA (Karachi City Cricket Association) has also publicly urged him to reconsider. Wasim Bari, chief selector, has reiterated in recent statements that Afridi is still up for selection in both squads for the tour to England as has not informed the PCB in writing of his decision.
One factor likely to play a part in any discussions is that of central contracts. Pakistan's cricketers, Test and ODI, are on rolling central contracts, divided into three categories based on seniority and experience. Afridi is in Category A, whereby he earns Rs 200,000 a month. But if he doesn't change his mind, this position, says Shaharyar, is likely to be reviewed when the new contracts are handed out in July.
"He is a very good player and we want him for both forms of the game. We can't have players picking and choosing when and what they want to play. But if he wants to skip Test matches then we have to see what sort of contract he should be given. Currently all the players to whom we've given contracts are available for Test and ODI cricket. Afridi is not an automatic choice for Tests but his availability is important for us."
Afridi is currently due to play for Ireland in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy, though he missed its opening match after his daughter fell sick. The decision to play for Ireland, soon after complaining of a heavy workload, has not endeared Afridi to PCB officials either. One said he was surprised Afridi was going to play for Ireland, "given that he said he was too tired at the moment and wanted to spend more time with his family."