Pakistan in England 2010 September 24, 2010

Tour was 'very difficult to cope with' - Afridi

ESPNcricinfo staff

The Pakistan squad returned home after completing one of the most acrimonious tours in history, with limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi calling the four-month trip to England the "most difficult" of his career.

"It was tough because of the controversies and became very difficult to cope with. Every time we went out of the hotel people passed remarks against us," Afridi said on arrival in Karachi. "The best part of the whole tour was that the players showed unity even in difficult times and gave a good fight in the one-day series against England."

Pakistan's coach, Waqar Younis, said the tour had taken a toll on the team's support staff as well because of the effort needed to keep the players upbeat amid the barrage of allegations. "If you take into account the tour to Sri Lanka [for the Asia Cup] before we went to England, it was four months on the trot and the tour of England was difficult both on and off the field," Waqar, who flew into Lahore, said.

"We had success against Australia which was pleasing, but because of the controversies it was tough against England. You needed that extra effort to gee up the players when you see a report in the newspaper every other day."

Pakistan's next international assignment is a home series against South Africa in the UAE in October-November. Afridi, who ended a four-year hiatus from Tests this year when he led Pakistan in the very first Test of the summer against Australia only to retire again from the format immediately after losing it, did not rule out another comeback for the Test leg of that tour. "I will think about it and if the team needs it, I may consider playing the Test series against South Africa," he said.

The tour of England had begun positively for Pakistan, with victories in the two Twenty20 internationals against Australia. Despite losing that first Test at Lord's and Afridi's retirement, Salman Butt took over the captaincy and led Pakistan to a series-leveling victory at Headingley. It was Pakistan's first Test win over Australia in nearly 15 years.

The Test series against England began poorly, with defeats at Trent Bridge and Edgbaston before Pakistan kept the contest alive with a victory at The Oval. During their defeat at Lord's, however, the series was plunged into scandal when a British tabloid ran a story alleging that Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were involved in spot-fixing by bowling deliberate no-balls.

The players under scrutiny were questioned by the police and provisionally suspended by the ICC before the Twenty20 series between Pakistan and England began. Pakistan lost both Twenty20 matches, and the one-day series that followed was at 2-1 when the ICC announced that it was investigating the Oval ODI, which Pakistan had won, after receiving information from another tabloid that bookies were aware of certain scoring patterns that would take place before the match.

It was decided that the last two ODIs would be played but, before the fourth game at Lord's, the PCB chairman Ijaz Butt alleged that England's players had thrown the third match as part of a wider conspiracy to "defraud Pakistan and Pakistan cricket", plunging the tour deeper into controversy.

The ECB reacted by issuing a strong statement deploring the allegations and said it would seek an apology from Butt or take legal action. There was also an altercation between Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz and England batsman Jonathan Trott during a net session ahead of the Lord's game.

Pakistan eventually leveled the series 2-2 before England won at the Rose Bowl to take the series.