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August 20, 2007
Abdul Razzaq, the Pakistan allrounder, has announced his retirement from international cricket in protest against his omission from the Twenty20 World Championship squad.
Razzaq told Geo TV he was "mentally upset" by the selectors' decision not to pick him and suggested the decision was based on factors outside cricket. "They used form and fitness as an excuse," he said. "I believe the selectors want to drop me from Test and ODI cricket as well and so, as a protest, I am quitting international cricket."
As with many before him, however, Razzaq left the door open for a possible return. "There can be reconciliation but the board has to listen to the players' grievances. Why is the board acting like this with players, trying to get rid of all the seniors?"
Razzaq's future has been the subject of frenzied speculation since his omission from the 15-man squad two weeks ago. He was publicly scathing of the PCB in a TV interview the day after he was dropped and has since delayed signing a central contract with the board.
He has also been pondering over an offer to play in the Indian Cricket League (ICL), though he was quick to stress that it had little to do with his decision. "The ICL has nothing to do with it. I have taken this decision only because of my being dropped."
He added that reports he had already signed up with the league were not correct. "I have an offer from them but I have not confirmed it yet. I will only decide in the next few days."
Salahuddin Ahmed, the chief selector, dismissed Razzaq's claims that the selectors were trying to elbow him out of international cricket. "There is no victimisation. Our selection for the Twenty20 was purely on merit and the best team was picked," he told Cricinfo. "Razzaq's omission certainly does not mean the end of his international career. I hope he reconsiders his decision because he still has a future with Pakistan."
Once considered among the finest allrounders in the game, Razzaq's career has failed to live up to expectations in recent years. His performances over the last couple of years, in particular, have been patchy. From his last 15 ODIs, he averages 17.30 with the bat and a highest score of 38. His once-bristling fast-medium seam bowling has lost some of its bite and in the same period he has taken only 12 wickets.
Three fifties and 38 wickets in his last 15 Tests suggest the malaise isn't restricted to just limited-overs cricket, though injuries have hardly helped the process. He missed the Test series against South Africa late last year and the World Cup subsequently. In 2005, he also missed the home series against England with an elbow injury.
Razzaq's decision comes in the background of more reports that at least four other Pakistan players, including Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf, are set to sign on with the ICL.
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