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News

Shaheen Afridi rejects Pakistan vice-captaincy offer

It is learned that the PCB selection committee wanted to name Shaheen as Babar Azam's deputy for the 2024 T20 World Cup, only to be rebuffed by the fast bowler

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
25-May-2024
Shaheen Shah Afridi during training, Sydney, January 1, 2024

Shaheen Afridi is anyway among the core leadership group of Pakistan's T20 side  •  Getty Images

Shaheen Afridi was offered the vice-captaincy of the Pakistan T20 side ahead of the World Cup squad announcement, but rejected the chance to take up the position. ESPNcricinfo has learned that the PCB selection committee raised the prospect of officially naming Shaheen as Babar Azam's deputy for the 2024 T20 World Cup, but were told that the fast bowler did not want the role. In the end, the World Cup squad, which was named hours before the ICC deadline to submit the final squad, did not officially have a vice-captain.
Though Shaheen had opted to put the matter of being stripped of the T20 captaincy after one series behind him, a sense of injustice continues to linger. The player has never felt the reasons for his dismissal were ever adequately explained to him, and having been unceremoniously dumped from one leadership position, he was understood to not be keen to jump into another.
The latest development in the PCB-Shaheen saga only further demonstrates the challenges that lie ahead in mending a relationship that was put under severe strain a few weeks ago. PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi hinted at a press conference in March that Shaheen may be replaced, and once he was, the PCB put out a statement on their website containing remarks from Shaheen offering Babar warm words of encouragement.
It would emerge that Shaheen never said the words attributed to him, and once he planned to make that public, Naqvi rushed to Kakul - where the players were undergoing a military training camp. While Shaheen remained thoroughly unimpressed and betrayed by the manner of his dismissal, an uneasy truce was understood to have been reached.
That Shaheen turned down another chance at a leadership position, though, demonstrates how uneasy that truce still is. Shaheen is among the core leadership group of the T20 side, but is understood to feel he does not need to take up an official role delineating it, particularly as the role is a demotion on the position he held just weeks ago.
While Shaheen was their first choice, the PCB selection committee also discussed other alternatives. Shadab Khan - who has served as vice-captain before - was one of the leading contenders, though his struggles with the ball and Pakistan's tendency not to use him with the bat in the top order means his place in the XI is not necessarily guaranteed. The possibility of nominating Mohammad Rizwan as Babar's deputy was also raised, though ultimately rejected, with the committee wishing to appoint a younger player in the position.
The approach to Shaheen was made before the selection committee's meeting to finalise the squad, where the issue of the vice-captaincy came up once more. Despite other names being discussed, there was relative unanimity on the PCB's final decision not to announce a vice-captain, with six of the seven members believed to be in favour of the move.
"During Friday's selection committee meeting, discussions on the vice-captaincy took place," the PCB said in a statement. "However, it was unanimously decided not to appoint anyone. As such, no offer was made to any player. The side is fully united, committed and keenly looking forward to the upcoming matches in the UK and the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024."*
*The story was updated to add the PCB's statement

Danyal Rasool is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @Danny61000