Waqar 'disappointed' with Afridi retirement
Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach, has said he is "disappointed" with Shahid Afridi's conditional retirement from international cricket, while denying there was a rift between him and Afridi. Waqar is due to meet PCB officials to discuss team manager Intikhab Alam's report on Pakistan's tour of the West Indies, and was reluctant to comment on the situation with Afridi before that.
"I am disappointed at his decision to retire," Waqar said. "I don't want to make too many comments before meeting PCB officials. There are no personal differences; we all play for Pakistan and I have only come to know about my differences with Afridi through the media and will not comment on them until I know what Afridi has said."
Waqar's reported rift with Afridi was followed by the latter being removed as Pakistan's one-day captain, a move that led to Afridi retiring in protest of what he saw as a humiliation by the PCB. Waqar, however, insisted he had nothing to do with Afridi's removal from the captaincy.
"It's not in my hand to appoint captain of the team," he told reporters, on returning from the tour of Ireland. "The PCB chairman [Ijaz Butt] appoints the captain so you better ask him why the change was made."
Afridi's retirement has prompted the PBC to suspend his central contact and revoke the No-Objection Certificate that allowed him to play for Hampshire in England's domestic Twenty20 tournament. While Afridi replied to a showcause noticed from the board by accepting he had violated their code of conduct, he also appealed to the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, to step in and stop the board from denying him the right to play cricket where he chose to.
The situation has taken on a further political tinge with Pakistan's interior minister Rehman Malik vowing to persuade the hugely popular Afridi to reconsider his decision. "I will do whatever I can to resolve this issue, as I am equally a fan of Afridi," Malik tweeted on Thursday.
Malik has gotten involved in cricketing affairs before: recently, he coaxed Zulqarnain Haider to return to Pakistan from England where he had fled to on the eve of a one-day match to escape from what Zulqarnain claims were death threats made to him by bookmakers. In the previous administration of Nasim Ashraf, he also played a mediating role between Ashraf and Shoaib Akhtar, in another dispute between board head and star player that got out of hand.