HANDING OVER REINS TO AFRIDI
May 31 - June 6, 2010
By handing over the reins of captaincy to 30 year old Shahid Afridi, Pakistan Cricket Board had given him the responsibility that the flamboyant cricketer can hardly carry. It is like throwing an inexperienced boxer into the ring to fight a super heavy weight opponent.
Shahid Afridi whose only act of fame was his 34 ball fastest century in an ODI against Sri Lanka four years ago has no experience of leading Pakistan in a full six test series that too in a country like England where playing conditions are totally different than the hot and dusty plains of the sub continent.
However he got the captaincy by default because no other senior person was around and all were sidelined on disciplinary charges arising out of their alleged misbehavior on Australian tour last December.
Afridi who had preferred to skip Test cricket four years ago to concentrate suddenly made a U Turn and announced his availability to play in test clearing the way to get the captaincy.
Leading Pakistan cricket team is a big honor but when it is given to lead in England its bigger honor. Playing against England in home of cricket with full attention of the world media has always been a challenging task for every visiting Pakistani captain.
Except for Abdul Hafeez Kardar and Mushtaq Muhammad and to some measure Imran Khan all other skippers had left English shores battered and bruised carrying some scandals that haunted them all their cricket life and beyond.
Shahid Afridi can only hope and pray that when he leaves Sri Lanka after playing in Asia Cup and later on in England at the end of a historic tour on September 24, he leaves without leaving behind any controversies.
However with all those cricketers who had been recently blamed for indiscipline and bringing Pakistan's name in disrepute with their action on the field on Australian and Shahid Afridi himself caught in a ball biting controversy which exposed his childlike and irresponsible behavior, it would take the management to constantly remind the captain about his responsibilities before he fumbles and takes further down the already poor image of Pakistan at world cricket.
The management itself is under siege because of its Irresponsible behaviour and taking sides and not controlling differences between the players that finally proved disastrous for Pakistan team.
Shahid Afridi's captaincy was thoroughly exposed in the recently held 2010 ICC World T20 Cup. Afridi could not defend by every standard a winning total of 191 against Australia in the semi final. He lacked the ideas and under pressure situation he lost his wits which resulted in Michael Hussey unleashing a barrage of sixes against off spinner Ajmal Saeed who did not get crucial tips in the last over which turned the game upside down against Pakistan.
By middle of June Pakistan cricket team will leave for Sri Lanka to start a 100 day cricket journey that will also take the team to England where they play a home test series against Australia and an away series against host England . Sri Lanka is hosting the four nation Asia Cup from June 15. India and Bangladesh are other teams in the competition.
After completing its assignment in Lanka, the team will reach England where it will play six tests- two against Australia and four against England besides two T20 matches against the two countries and a five ODI series against England immediately after the four match test series.
Pakistan's matches against Australia will be its offshore home series against the team that has refused to visit Pakistan for security reasons.
It will be the most challenging tour ever under taken by Pakistan.
First playing under hot and humid conditions in Sri Lanka would be challenging for Pakistan which would try to first time win the Asia Cup which it initiated about a decade and half ago. Arch rivals India, defending champions Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be other teams in the fray.
Indians and Pakistanis are frequent visitors to the Island nation but their visit this time will be bit different. Both the main land sub continental teams will be visiting Lanka first time after two important historical events.
Indian cricketers will land in Sri Lanka first time after the Lankan government defeated Tamil Tigers who fought a long thirty years war for freedom. India many years ago had abstained from an earlier Asia Cup edition held in Lanka for security reasons.
Pakistan will also be arriving first time in the Island nation since last year's March attack on Sri Lankan team in Lahore which resulted in bullet injuries to a couple of Lankan cricketers and a few Pakistanis security personnel fell to the bullets of the attackers.
But the tour of England that comes on the heels of Asia Cup is more challenging not in terms of weather but in terms of opposition.
Pakistan will be hosting its home series in England against Australia the strongest test combination. It will play two tests and two T20 against the Aussies. Almost immediately after the Australian series Pakistan will play four tests, two T20 and five 50 overs ODI against the host England.
To meet all these challenges and to lead Pakistan, the Pakistan Cricket Board in their own wisdom has handed over the reins of captaincy into the hands of Shahid Afridi, the tempestuous cricket who is more known for his flamboyant hitting and playing to the gallery.
Afridi clinched the captaincy by default because there was no other senior after Shoaib Malik, Muhammad Yousuf and Younis Khan were sidelined for different reasons from the team and there was only one position before PCB to first advise Afridi to announce his willingness to play in the test cricket and when this has been done to hand over the reins of captaincy.
Afridi has no previous experience of leading Pakistan in test or the ODU series and that too on an way tour. He had once led Pakistan in an ODI because circumstances made him the captain in Sydney ODI against Australia last year. His behavior was irresponsible and un-captain like when he bit the ball twice and earned one match ban from the ICC.
He was given captaincy of the national team in the 2010 West Indies ICC World T20 cup. Not only Pakistan failed to defend the title but it lost to Australia in the semifinal which was in their pocket. His leadership in that match and other two league matches was ordinary and lacked the brilliance required in the fastest version of cricket.
Not that he made all the best moves as captain and was thwarted by the opposition in the T20 world cup but he lacked the spark and the quick thanking that ultimately went against his team. Captaincy is not about mere encouraging players by clapping or patting their backs it is more than that. It needs leadership quality which meant setting the example and making decisions which can upset the opposition. Nothing of that sort was seen in the semi final against Australia.
After posting an imposing 191, Pakistan just crumbled in the last three overs when Michael Hussey just massacred Pakistani bowlers as Afridi looked on as an spectator and not as leader.
Abdul Hafeez Kardar was byfar less brilliant cricketers than Shahid Afridi but he was extraordinarily brilliant and educated captain.
Without his brilliant thinking and leadership qualities Pakistan would not have test matches in all the continents in initial years.
Shahid Afridi has been named Pakistan's Test and ODI captain the selectors also opened the door on a possible return for Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik, two men only recently banned by the board for indiscipline. Another old hand at the indiscipline game, Shoaib Akhtar, has been called up in a 35-man list of probable.
Afridi now becomes the 27th man to lead Pakistan in Tests and the fourth captain since the start of 2009. The decision remains a risky one, given that Afridi played the last of his 26 Tests almost exactly four years ago on Pakistan's last tour to England. Until recently he has appeared unsure about a return to the format, but it is believed the appointment was part of an agreement to become the Twenty20 captain before the World Twenty20.
The 15-man squad for the Asia Cup will be decided in the first week of June after a short, five to six-day training camp in Karachi. The squad for England will be decided soon after that.
Chairman PCB Ijaz Butt and Chairman Selection Committee Mohsin Khan announced 35 probable and the Team Management for the upcoming Asia Cup and England Tour.
Openers: Salman Butt, Imran Farhat, Yasir Hameed, Khurram Manzoor, Shahzaib Hassan, Azhar Ali, Azeem Ghumman.
Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Faisal Iqbal, Fawad Alam, Hassan Raza, Asad Shafiq, Umar Amin, Aamir Sajjad, Muhammad Hafeez
All Rounders: Shahid Afridi (Captain), Abdul Razzaq, Yasir Arafat,
Fast Bowlers: Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar, Muhammad Asif, Muhammad Amir, Muhammad Sami, Wahab Riaz, Muhammad Irfan, Tanveer Ahmed, Aizaz Cheema,
Spinners: Danish Kaneria, Abdul Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar Wicker-Keepers:Kamran Akmal , Zulqarnain Haider.
|Shafqat Rana||Associate Manager|
|Ejaz Ahmed||Associate Coach|
|Aaqib Javed||Assistant Coach|
|Khawaja Najam||Security Manager|
COMPLETE TOUR SCHEDULE:
|Jun 15||Sri Lanka v Pakistan||Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium|
|Jun 19||India v Pakistan||Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium|
|Jun 21||Bangladesh v Pakistan||Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium|
|Jun 28 - Jun 30||Kent v Pakistanis||St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury|
|Jul 2||Essex v Pakistanis||County Ground, Chelmsford|
|Jul 3||Northamptonshire v Pakistanis||County Ground, Northampton|
|Jul 5||1st T20I - Australia v Pakistan||Edgbaston, Birmingham|
|Jul 6||2nd T20I - Australia v Pakistan||Edgbaston, Birmingham|
|Jul 8 - Jul 9||Leicestershire v Pakistanis||Grace Road, Leicester|
|Jul 13 - Jul 17||1st Test - Australia v Pakistan||Lordís, London|
|Jul 21 - Jul 25||2nd Test - Australia v Pakistan||Headingley, Leeds|
|Jul 29 - Aug 2||1st Test - England v Pakistan||Trent Bridge, Nottingham|
|Aug 6 - Aug 10||2nd Test - England v Pakistan||Edgbaston, Birmingham|
|Aug 13 - Aug 14||Worcestershire v Pakistanis (2-day tour match at New Road on August 13-14 played against England Lions if Worcestershire involved in Twenty20 Finals Day)||County Ground, New Road, Worcester|
|Aug 18 - Aug 22||3rd Test - England v Pakistan||Kennington Oval, London|
|Aug 26 - Aug 30||4th Test - England v Pakistan||Lordís, London|
|Sep 2||Somerset v Pakistanis||County Ground, Taunton|
|Sep 5||1st T20I - England v Pakistan||Sophia Gardens, Cardiff|
|Sep 7||2nd T20I - England v Pakistan||Sophia Gardens, Cardiff|
|Sep 10||1st ODI - England v Pakistan||Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street|
|Sep 12||2nd ODI - England v Pakistan||Headingley, Leeds|
|Sep 17||3rd ODI - England v Pakistan||Kennington Oval, London|
|Sep 20||4th ODI - England v Pakistan||Lordís, London|
|Sep 22||5th ODI - England v Pakistan||The Rose Bowl, Southampton|