Shahid Afridi hints at return of senior players to cricket team

Published December 25, 2022
Shahid Afridi, newly appointed interim chair of the men’s national team selection committee, speaks to the media in Karachi on Sunday. — Youtube screengrab
Shahid Afridi, newly appointed interim chair of the men’s national team selection committee, speaks to the media in Karachi on Sunday. — Youtube screengrab

Shahid Afridi, newly appointed interim chair of the men’s national team selection committee, on Sunday hinted at the possibility of senior players returning to the Pakistan men’s cricket team.

Afridi was appointed as the interim head of the men’s national selection committee for the home series against New Zealand by the Pakistan Cricket Board Management Committee led by Najam Sethi on Saturday.

In his first decision in his new role, Afridi had added three players to the team a day before, including pacers Mir Hamza and Shahnawaz Dahani and off-spinner Sajid Khan.

During his first media talk in Karachi upon assuming his new office, the selection committee head was questioned about any changes to the batting lineup such as bringing back Sarfaraz Ahmed to which he said: “Babar Azam said something a few days ago that the ‘worldload should be shifted’ which is very good. There are many players who have been continuously playing all three formats and it sometimes becomes difficult.”

Afridi said the bench should be so strong that any player’s missing presence is not felt by or impacts the team’s performance. “We have such players who are seniors who have been relegated outside [the team] for many days,” he said.

About his decision to add the three players, Afridi termed it a “very good decision” of the selection committee to induct two more fastbowlers, adding that he found out that teenage pace sensation Naseem Shah was still not fully fit.

“That decision of ours was good. Our bowlers who we have been carrying [idly] for many years such as Dahani, when will we let him play and give him a chance and make him a bowler?

“And then there is Mir Hamza because we don’t have Shaheen Shah Afridi so we have a need for a fastbowler and I think that boy deserves it and has given good performances,” Afridi said.

He added that the national selection committee would have a meeting soon with skipper Babar Azam about the final lineup of the team. “This selection committee has come here to make Azam as good a captain as good a world-class batter he is,” Afridi added.

The interim selection committee head said Azam was the “backbone” of the team and the committee wanted him to be counted among the “world-class captains”.

“We have basically come here to support him, share our experiences and to help him out in the areas in which I think there can be [further] improvement.”

Regarding the committee’s approach, Afridi said it would try to make up for and “cover” many practices of the past. He also said the committee had ideas about new approaches.

“If we continue with old fashioned ways then how will we become the world number one or two [team] until we don’t implement changes?”

He said the selection committee was formed only for the current NZ series and was aware of its responsibility.

Pakistan’s Test series against New Zealand begins with the first match in Karachi on Monday.

Revised squad: Babar Azam (captain), Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Moham­mad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Noman Ali, Sajid Khan, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood and Zahid Mehmood.

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