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Cracks appear in Afridi-Waqar relationship

Shahid Afridi, Pakistan's ODI captain, hinted at differences with his coach Waqar Younis after arriving in Karachi from the West Indies

ESPNcricinfo staff
A rift in the partnership?  •  AFP

A rift in the partnership?  •  AFP

Shahid Afridi, Pakistan's limited overs captain, has hinted at differences with his coach Waqar Younis after arriving in Karachi from the West Indies where he led the side to a victorious, but ultimately deflating 3-2 series win.
Speculation has grown in the last two days about problems between the pair, specifically over issues of team selection. Both, along with team manager Intikhab Alam, are members of the on-tour selection committee which decides on a playing XI. It has been reported that Afridi was unhappy with what he has seen as Waqar's interference in selection; ahead of the fourth ODI against West Indies, one report claimed Afridi almost walked out of a selection meeting and had to be persuaded by Intikhab to come back.
"Although the differences in team management are not such which could not be solved, I feel everyone should do his job and need not interfere in other's work," Afridi told reporters on arrival. He also said he would be meeting the board chairman Ijaz Butt in Lahore next week to discuss the issue.
Board officials have downplayed the matter; one source telling ESPNcricinfo that "no such incident as described in those reports [Afridi walking away from a meeting] occurred during the series." He did concede, however, that there may have been "long-standing issues" over selection matters.
Another senior official confirmed to ESPNcricinfo, however, that differences between the pair had widened during the Caribbean trip. "They did have issues. Afridi believes he should have final say in the XI as he takes the heat when he goes out on the field and Waqar feels strongly that a coach should have input."
The official also confirmed that Intikhab did try to mediate between the two and stressed the need to keep matters within the team rather than leak them to the media as ultimately happened.
Afridi and Waqar went through the World Cup without huge problems but there are longer-term issues. For example, it is widely believed that before the World Cup, before a decision had been made on who would captain Pakistan in the tournament, Waqar was in favour of Misbah-ul-Haq ahead of Afridi as captain.
The matter is complicated by the recent threat to resign by chief selector Mohsin Khan. Although he eventually relented after resolving the matter with Butt and never publicly disclosed who he was having problems with, some reports suggested that he was also unhappy with Waqar's role in selection, especially of the Test squad for the current tour.
The board official believes though that the problems are not something that cannot be resolved. "It is something that has happened before and does crop up every now and again. I don't feel they are irreconcilable differences between the two. Afridi has requested time with the chairman so let's see what happens beyond that."
Pakistan lost the last two games of the series, the last one by ten wickets, having given chances to a number of untried young players such as Hammad Azam, Usman Salahuddin and Junaid Khan through the matches. Afridi regretted his team lost a good chance to win all the matches, calling once again for the involvement of a batting coach with the side.
"We should have clean-swept West Indies but the defeat in the last two matches left a bad taste in the mouth; we flopped in batting and that's why I must say we need a batting coach," said Afridi, who also admitted he was below par in the series.
"I played average cricket because I was tired after the World Cup and only played the series on the advice of some friends and former players."