TWO of Pakistan’s favourite sportsmen Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi have decided to retire from ODI matches after next month’s ICC Cricket World Cup scheduled to be held in Australia and New Zealand.
The two cricketing stalwarts, who have served the game in Pakistan with distinction over the years, have expressed their resolve to perform their best at the upcoming event in order to make it a memorable departure.
However, Misbah will continue to lead Pakistan in the Test matches while Afridi has been named captain for the 2016 T20 World Cup and intends to concentrate his energies on that event which will be held in India.
The announcements, though very much on the cards, have rocked Pakistan cricket especially as there are no immediate replacements in sight of those who could be termed as natural successors of the two. However, it has triggered a lively debate regarding the nomination of a possible candidate to lead Pakistan in the ODIs after the World Cup.
Interestingly, the other senior player in the team Younis Khan has made it evident that he has no immediate plans to hang up his boots where ODIs are concerned like his two other colleagues. But whether or not the Pakistan Cricket Board hands him the mantle, or, with an eye on the future, appoints a youngster to lead the team remains to be seen.
The names of talented youngsters including opener Ahmed Shehzad, Sohaib Maqsood, Fawad Alam and Asad Shafiq are being discussed in cricketing circles for the coveted position, but since they have not led Pakistan at the international level, their leadership skills remain untested.
Besides Misbah and Afridi, Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have also announced their retirement once the World Cup is over. Some other international players who are likely to call it a day after the extravaganza include Chris Gayle of the West Indies, New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum and Robin Peterson of South Africa.
Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2015