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July 16, 2010
The PCB are expected to meet on Friday to decide on a successor to Shahid Afridi as Test captain for the series against England. Salman Butt is the tour vice-captain and would normally be in line to take over, but that will not, according the the PCB chairman, happen "automatically."
Afridi caught everyone, including the PCB, off-guard by announcing his retirement from Test cricket immediately after his first Test as captain - and first Test in four years - which Pakistan lost to Australia by 150 runs at Lord's. He cited a side strain and temperamental incompatibility to the demands of the five-day game as factors behind the decision. The second Test at Leeds -fitness permitting - will be his last.
Yawar Saeed, the team manager, told Cricinfo that the vice-captain should take over, as per procedure and Waqar Younis, the coach, also suggested that Butt would take over but it is not inked in stone yet. "Shahid has officially informed me of the decision and we will meet tonight to discuss who will take over," Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, told Cricinfo.
"Salman Butt is the vice-captain but that does not automatically entitle him to take over just yet. A decision will be made soon." The meeting will include inputs from Waqar and Yawar and given Afridi's side strain, it could be that the new man takes over from the Headingley Test.
Options are not exactly bulging at the moment. The last two Test captains Pakistan have had - Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf - are both out of national reckoning; Yousuf has retired, though that is an impermanent state in Pakistan and though Younis's ban has been lifted, the PCB is still not keen to bring him back into the squad.
Media speculation in Pakistan suggested that Yousuf had been contacted by the board and asked to come to England, though it was unclear whether as a player or possible captain. But Butt said no contact had been made with Yousuf or Younis , who is currently playing for Surrey, though when asked about the possibility of them appearing at some stage of the tour, he refused to rule it out or in. "It is only one Test so far and I have not contacted either of them. I don't want to comment on it anymore. We will have a meeting and decisions will be made in that," Butt said
Shoaib Malik, who was captain until February 2009, is in England with the side but was not even picked for the Lord's Test. From the playing XI, only Kamran Akmal and Butt have the kind of experience which might begin to form the basis of a credible alternative. It seems inconceivable that they will appoint someone from beyond that trio.
Ijaz Butt had appointed Afridi as recently as the end of May, uniting the captaincy of Pakistan in all formats under one man again. "We must respect his decision," Butt said. "He came to me and told me categorically that he feels he is not suited to Test cricket and that he has taken the decision himself. It is very honest of him and we must respect that decision."
Afridi is keen to continue his career in ODI and Twenty20 cricket and though he has not clarifiied whether he would do so as captain, Butt hoped that he would.
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