Allrounder banned for four games February 13, 2007

Afridi blames ICC for being 'too strict'

Shahid Afridi: disappointed with ICC's four-match ban © AFP

Shahid Afridi, Pakistan's allrounder, has taken a swipe at the International Cricket Council (ICC) over the four-match ban imposed on him, terming it a harsh penalty. Afridi came under ICC scrutiny following an incident involving a spectator during his team's opening one-dayer against South Africa at Centurion earlier this month.

"I think that ICC has banned me four matches on a minor offence which is very disappointing especially since the World Cup is so near," Afridi told reporters at the Jinnah Terminal following his arrival from South Africa.

Afridi, who turns 27 next month, missed the fourth one-dayer against South Africa last week and will also miss the final match to be played in Johannesburg tomorrow. The incident took place when Afridi was walking up a set of stairs towards the dressing-room and a spectator apparently said something to him. Afridi reacted by appearing to push his bat at the spectator in an aggressive manner, causing him to take evasive action.

"The spectator made bad remarks about Pakistan and in the heat of the moment I flashed my bat but I didn't intend to harm the person," he said. Afridi was in danger of getting a maximum eight ODI ban after being charged with a Level 3 offence under section C 2 of the Code which refers to "conduct unbecoming ... which could bring (players or officials) or the game of cricket into disrepute."

Match Referee Chris Broad found him guilty of breaching the ICC's Code of Conduct but opted to hand him a minimum four-match ban. Afridi said and he and the team management agreed to refrain from appealing against the ban in order to ensure that he misses only two World Cup matches. "We thought that if the appeal is rejected then I will not be able to play in four World Cup matches, which is why it was decided to accept the penalty."

He said that the ICC should reconsider their Code of Conduct which 'is too strict for the players at the moment'. Afridi appeared satisfied with his form saying that he was looking forward to play his role in Pakistan's campaign in the World Cup. Afridi's four-match ban means he will miss Pakistan's first two games of the tournament.

"I tried to focus on my batting in the matches I played in South Africa and thankfully I have managed to find some of my lost form," said Afridi, who was almost out of Pakistan squad after an extended patch of poor form that lasted for almost 20 months.