Pakistan news May 27, 2011

Ijaz Butt defends sacking of Afridi

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, has said that there were "solid reasons" for the removal of Shahid Afridi as ODI captain but that he will reveal those reasons at a later date.

Afridi was replaced by Misbah-ul-Haq last week, after leading Pakistan in back-to-back ODI series against New Zealand and West Indies, and to a last-four finish in the World Cup. The board has not given an official reason for the removal, though it is believed to be the result of growing differences Afridi had with coach Waqar Younis, in particular over matters of selection.

On his return from the Caribbean, Afridi referred to the situation with Waqar, saying, "Although the differences in team management are not such which could not be solved, I feel everyone should do his job and need not interfere in other's work". That led to the board issuing him a showcause notice to explain his remarks, and presumably formed part of the reasons for his removal. Subsequently Afridi decided to pull out of the two ODIs against Ireland; speculation has been that he is unhappy over his removal but he has said it is because his father is unwell.

Removing Afridi meant that Butt has now presided over nine changes in the Test and ODI captaincy during his tenure as chairman, a period of less than three years. But Butt insisted in an interview with the leading Urdu daily Jang that he was justified in making the change.

"We had very solid reasons to remove Afridi and I will reveal them when the time is right," Butt said. "We haven't taken this action without any reasons."

Butt did indicate that there had been a breach of discipline on Afridi's part, though it is not yet clear whether he was referring to the comments Afridi made on his return, or to separate incidents on tour. Tensions between Waqar and Afridi are reported to have risen considerably in some team selection meetings, with Intikhab Alam, the team manager, having to play peace broker.

The on-tour management's report has been handed in to the board, according to Butt, and details will emerge after the team returns from Ireland, when the board will also deal with the issue of Afridi's showcause notice. "We know Afridi won two series and that is why we didn't act then [during the tour]. We couldn't do anything more during that tour. Right now anything more I say will cause more tensions. Everything will come to light soon."

Meanwhile, Waqar refused to speculate on Afridi's future role within the side. "I have got no idea about that," Waqar said. "It is the board's decision what they want to do about the captaincy. My job is to look after the team and to deliver the goods."

Waqar also denied reports he had fallen out with Afridi. "It was the papers that made all this," he said. "There is nothing in it."