Shahid Afridi was handed a Rs 360,000 monthly contract by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) this week but the former captain should retire from international cricket as he is ‘finished’ and has ‘nothing left to offer anymore’, according to the Pakistan team management and players.
Afridi was dropped for the One-Day International (ODI) leg of the tour of India end of last year before making a comeback for the five-match series in South Africa where he failed to pick up a single wicket in 37 overs. His 88 in the third ODI was his first half-century in 13 months and his highest score since the124 against Bangladesh in June 2010.
Despite calls for experience in the squad for the ICC event and another ‘final chance’, the former captain was overlooked for the Champions Trophy that takes place in England and Wales next month. The surprise inclusion in category A for the central contracts list seemed to have handed the all-rounder some hope of extending his playing days but if the decision was left to the team management, Afridi’s career would be over.
“Afridi is finished, I don’t think he has anything left to offer anymore,” a member of the team management told Dawn.com ahead of Pakistan’s opening match against Scotland.
“He has played some amazing innings and bowled superbly in the past but it’s time to move on now. For the last year or so, he has been selected on the basis of his bowling only but has failed to pick up wickets or stop the flow of runs and that’s why he is of no use to the team anymore.”
Afridi has taken just four wickets in the last 12 ODIs – his tally stands at 348 from 354 ODIs – and just seven T20 wickets in the last 12 months. His much-questioned batting skills, too, have been put to the sword as only 161 of his 7,261 ODI runs have come in the last 12 months with just three double-figure scores.
“Experience and knowledge of the game is one thing but to be in the playing-XI, you need to be performing consistently and not just riding on history,” said a member of the national squad.
“Afridi has rescued the team on various occasions – with bat and ball – and is always at the front with advice but his recent dip in form has put extra pressure on others around him to make up for his lack of contribution.”
Despite no immediate replacement in sight – a bowler who can bat and the ability to clear the rope – the selectors and the team management is content with altering the playing-XI instead of ‘accommodating an underperforming Afridi’ just because of his numbers. His last snub lasted just three matches but he stance on show currently looks set to overtake that.
“We can never rule out his return but in the interest of Pakistan cricket and its future, we now need to look beyond Afridi and he needs to look beyond international cricket.”