Afridi unable to play for Hampshire
Shahid Afridi will not turn out for Hampshire in the Friends Life t20 season after the revoking on Tuesday of his No-Objection Certificate (NOC) by the PCB, with whom he is presently at loggerheads. The ECB has suspended Afridi's overseas registration and has said it is checking that the correct procedures have been followed with regard to his NOC revocation.
Afridi announced his international retirement this week in protest at the PCB's decision to remove him from the ODI captaincy earlier this month. After he criticised the PCB in a television interview, the board suspended Afridi's central contract, revoked his NOCs and slapped him with a showcause notice on Tuesday.
After several communications between the ECB and PCB today, Afridi confirmed that until the NOC remains withdrawn he "will not be playing for Hampshire." Afridi had been signed by Hampshire as one of their two overseas players and was due to play on the opening day of the Twenty20 tournament on Wednesday.
Rod Bransgrove, the Hampshire chairman, also confirmed the news to ESPNcricinfo. "My understanding of the process is that Shahid retired two or three days ago, the following day the PCB announced they would withdraw his No-Objection Certificate, and from what I can gather today the ECB have removed his registration, which makes him unavailable to play. We're still discussing with various parties whether he's a retired player, a contracted player, but at the moment it looks as though he won't be playing. If he's not registered, he can't play, so it's an ECB issue at present."
Afridi will remain in the UK for some time now before he plans his next step. Legal action has not been ruled out. "They are using all their powers against me right now and they can use them all they want. We are looking right now at all various options and obviously when such actions are taken, unjust actions, then that [legal action] is a consideration," Afridi told ESPNcricinfo. He also confirmed he had appealed directly to the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, who is also patron of the PCB and the man who appoints the board chairman.
In the immediate future, Afridi had also been lined up to play in the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) and possibly lead a team. There are likely to be several complications though. Afridi was confident he would "be able to take part in the league" as his central contract - presently suspended - finishes in June this year. The league is scheduled to take place over two weeks between July and August but precisely what his status will be at the time cannot be predicted.
If, as is the general practice and ICC requirement, the league requires NOCs from all players who take part - current or former, centrally contracted or otherwise - then obtaining it from the PCB might remain a problem for Afridi.
Afridi's retirement, as he made clear, is a conditional one and applied only to this administration. Asked if there was anyway he could return under this board, he said: "Absolutely not, no way at all."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo