Pakistan news July 8, 2011

Ijaz Butt rules out Afridi's captaincy future

ESPNcricinfo staff

PCB chairman Ijaz Butt has ruled out a return to captaincy for Shahid Afridi in the future, though he left a window open for him to return to the national side as a player.

"As far as I am concerned he is not captaincy material for the PCB anymore," Butt told Geo Super television channel. "[As a player] he has done well in the past, he's been a good cricketer for Pakistan, there's no doubt about it."

In May, Afridi publicly announced his "conditional" retirement from the game in protest against his "humiliation" at the PCB's hands, but was ready to reverse his decision if a new board came to power. The PCB responded by suspending his national contract and refusing to issue No-Objection Certificates (NOC) to allow Afridi to ply his trade in domestic Twenty20 leagues.

Afridi took the matter to court, but both sides later came to a settlement with Afridi agreeing to plead guilty of misconduct and paying a fine of 4.5 million rupees, and the board allowing him to play domestic Twenty20 cricket in England. A number of political personalities waded into the matter at the time, but Butt - who has strong ties to the political party currently in power - said he had refused to cave in to the pressure to reinstate Afridi, and insisted that due processes must be followed before restoring the NOCs.

"The governor of Sindh rang up, talked to me for one hour," Butt said. "[Former prime minister] Nawaz Sharif rang me. I told him, 'Have a heart, this is not a political issue, this is something different.' We are not part of politics."

Butt said at least 15 to 20 other politicians contacted him, but he told everyone that if Afridi wanted to get clearance he had to follow the process. "If this is not followed I will definitely not budge whatever the pressure might be."

The comments that are likely to annoy Afridi most, however, are about his role in the 3-2 ODI series win over West Indies. Pakistan strolled to an unassailable 3-0 lead before the selection meeting bust-up between coach Waqar Younis and Afridi that sparked off the controversy. Unsettled, Pakistan lost the last two ODIs and Butt was in no doubt who was to blame. "I will only say that in my opinion, which may be considered by some people wrong, he [Afridi] is responsible for losses in the fourth and fifth one-dayers," Butt said.

Soon after the interview was broadcast, he told the News, "I don't even want to think about them [Butt and the PCB]. I'm enjoying my cricket and won't allow anybody to spoil it for me. Let me see what they are saying against me and then I'm going to decide whether there is a need to give my side of the story."

However, Afridi's agent, Umran Khan, was less conciliatory. "We read these as very defamatory comments made by the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board," Khan told the BBC Asian Network. "We are looking at legal avenues with regards to pursuing it. I read those comments as an allegation on my client."

Afridi has enjoyed considerable success in his Twenty20 stint with Hampshire. He told the newspaper that he was considering an offer to play for their one-day side as well, with the possibility now that the Sri Lankan Premier League - which he was contracted to play for - has been postponed to next year.