Pakistan news June 3, 2011

Afridi's legal counsel looks to resolve dispute

A legal firm acting on behalf of Shahid Afridi has sent the Pakistan Cricket Board a letter in a bid to resolve the on-going dispute between the two parties, sparked by his removal from the ODI captaincy, and his subsequent announcement of a "conditional" retirement.

The letter is not a legal notice, but attempts to expand on Afridi's contribution to Pakistan cricket and raises the issue of Hampshire, the county Afridi has been prevented from playing for after the board revoked his No-Objection Certificate (NOC), apart from suspending his central contract.

"A firm of lawyers acting on Afridi's behalf have sent the PCB a letter to try and resolve the issue," the player's manager Umran Khan told ESPNcricinfo. "The letter has gone into some depth in explaining the history of Afridi as a player, his contributions to Pakistan cricket and his global standing as a player. The Hampshire issue has also been raised. The club was terrific in organising the last ODI [between England and Pakistan] last summer."

The PCB confirmed receipt of the letter at their end. "We have received a letter from legal firm Mandviwalla and Zafar Associates on behalf of Afridi and as per the rules we forwarded it to the disciplinary committee," PCB spokesman Nadeem Sarwar told AFP.

According to a report in the Dawn, the letter argues that the showcause notice sent to Afridi is "malafide in law and facts and is an attempt to tarnish the image of the seasoned allrounder who is a patriotic, respected and honourable cricketer of Pakistan".

Afridi has been summoned to appear before a three-man disciplinary committee formed by the PCB on June 8 in Lahore, to face charges that he has breached two clauses of the code of conduct with his retirement announcement and subsequent criticism of the board. Afridi, in his first response to the show-cause notice, accepted that his comments were a violation of the code but Khan clarified that no apology had been made. "He accepted the violations, he did not offer an apology," Khan said. Khan did confirm that Afridi would be appearing before the committee.

The matter has ballooned into far more than just a dispute between player and board; Afridi's stature as successful ODI player and captain and his public popularity has raised the stakes against an administration that has sought zealously to quell player power over the last year and a half. Afridi has appealed directly to Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari, who is also patron of the PCB. On Thursday Rehman Malik, the country's interior minister, also tweeted he would try to resolve the dispute, and it is believed that pressure has been applied from his quarters on the board to do just that.

A handful of parliamentarians have expressed their ire at the handling of the situation. On Thursday Dawn reported that the sports ministry had been asked by the offices of the prime minister and president to submit an independent report on the dispute within a week.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo