Pakistan news August 2, 2011

I went from hero to zero - Afridi

ESPNcricinfo staff

Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has claimed that he was not part of the selection meetings for the final two one-dayers against West Indies in May earlier this year, despite being captain. A series of sharp comments made to the Pakistani media over the past couple of days seems to dispel any possibility of a reconciliation - speculation about which increased following the death of his father last month - with the cricket establishment.

On his return from the Caribbean, Afridi hinted at differences with coach Waqar Younis that sparked off a controversy leading to Afridi's removal as limited-overs captain and a legal battle with the Pakistan board.

Waqar's tour report of that series confirmed Afridi had walked out of a meeting over differences relating to selection. Pakistan lost the final two ODIs and PCB chief Ijaz Butt defended the decision to remove Afridi saying he wasn't "captaincy material" in an interview last month.

"I did not take part in the selection meeting on the eve of the last two matches," Afridi told reporters in Karachi on Monday. "The team was selected by coach Waqar Younis and Intikhab Alam and I had no input in the selection of the playing eleven.

"Everybody knows through the manager's report that I wasn't involved in selection because I walked away from the meeting. The chairman's comments were really disappointing because the remarks he made don't suit his stature. I was a hero for them after the World Cup and suddenly I became zero."

Afridi said his dispute with the PCB, which ended when he agreed to plead guilty of misconduct and paid a fine of 4.5 million rupees in exchange for permission to play domestic Twenty20 cricket in England, affected the team's momentum. "I made many plans for the team," Afridi said. "Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and myself were involved in devising many strategies but it was ruined because of what happened afterwards."

Afridi, who retired "conditionally" from international cricket after his removal as captain, said he would not go back on his decision as long as the present regime of the PCB remained in power. "I cannot play with people who conspired against me and worked against the team, they have their personal interests paramount to them and they are only damaging the team.

"I have always maintained that playing for Pakistan is my priority, I would always prefer representing my country over any offer from anywhere in the world," he said.