KARACHI: Shahid Afridi is ready to relinquish his place in the national team as soon as a talented youngster capable of dethroning him emerges.
In an exclusive conversation with Dawn News, Afridi stated that there was a dearth of talented all-rounders and the moment there was someone ready and able to take the responsibility, he would call time on his international career.
“I would quit as soon as a replacement for me surfaces, at present it seems there is no one who has the talent to play as an all-rounder and make a sustained impact at the international level, I have said time and again I would not block anyone good enough for Pakistan,” the all-rounder said.
Afridi rued the missed historic opportunity of beating the Proteas in a one-day international series.
“The seniors just did not perform well enough, we had a golden opportunity of beating South Africa and I feel that we let the team down at crucial times, hence the result was not in our favour,” he said after returning from South Africa.
He added that there was a good chance of posting big total in almost every match in South Africa because of the flat wickets which the batsmen should have taken advantage of.
The leg-spinning all-rounder, who had a barren run in the series especially with the ball, feels that the new ODI rules have hampered spinners and he is not the only one having problems.
“The new rules have made spinners negative, we are now looking at ways of stopping the batsmen from scoring runs with only four fielders outside the circle, and even someone like Saeed Ajmal is suffering since we are attacking bowlers by nature.”
However, Afridi feels that his bowling improved in the last match with his renowned drift returning, but he lamented his performance in the earlier part of the series.
He added that his onslaught in the third ODI at Wanderers was due to immense hard work he had put in during practice sessions.
“I felt a great deal of confidence with the bat as soon as I arrived in South Africa. In the T20 game I made a quick fire contribution towards the end, while in the Bloemfontein ODI I made 34 with only number eleven for company, at Wanderers I was in the zone and felt at ease hence, the big innings ensued.”
The former captain disclosed that he was not going to take part in the ongoing Super Eight T20 tournament in Lahore as the national bowling coach has asked him to concentrate on his bowling.
“I am going to start special training to improve my bowling; the session starts in Karachi from tomorrow, my aim is to regain my touch and I am willing to put in the hard work.”
Afridi, who is regarded as the most popular Pakistani cricketer of the present times, thanked his supporters for renewing their trust in him.
“I want to prove to my supporters that their loyalty with me was not something they should regret, I have always fought like a warrior and in the years ahead would continue to do the same. Cricket remains my passion and I would continue to give it my best shot as long as I have belief in my abilities,” he said.
The next challenge for Afridi is the Champions Trophy set to take place in England during the summer.
Pakistan fans would be hoping that Afridi performs with both bat and ball and improve the team’s chances of adding another major trophy to their collection.