PCB chief meets cricket team in Kakul amid reported furore over remarks by Shaheen

Published April 1, 2024
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Mohsin Naqvi meets former captain Shaheen Shah Afiridi in Kakul on Monday. — PCB
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Mohsin Naqvi meets former captain Shaheen Shah Afiridi in Kakul on Monday. — PCB

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Mohsin Naqvi on Monday met the national cricket team — which is currently participating in a fitness camp in Kakul — amid a controversy over comments attributed to Shaheen Shah Afridi in an official statement.

An eventful week after the PCB had “reorganised” the national selection committee culminated a day ago with the return of Babar Azam as the side’s white-ball skipper, replacing Shaheen.

As per a PCB statement issued on the matter, Shaheen said he looked forward to playing under Babar again. “It was an absolute honour to captain Pakistan’s national cricket team,” he was quoted as saying in the PCB statement.

“As a team player, it is my duty to back our captain, Babar Azam. I have played under his captaincy and have nothing but respect for him,” he had said.

However, a source close to Shaheen denied he had signed off on the statement that implied a harmonious transfer of the top job. The source added Afridi resented being replaced after being in charge for just one Twenty20 series.

“This is not Shaheen’s statement and he has contacted PCB to clarify this,” the source told AFP. “Shaheen will meet PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi on Monday to clarify this,” the source had said.

Meanwhile, ESPN cricinfo reported that Shaheen was “furious” with the statement attributed to him and was “on the brink of making a statement to this effect, but the PCB has held emergency talks with him”.

The report added that Shaheen “is understood to have contributed nothing to that [PCB] statement at all”.

Amid the uncertain situation, PCB chief Naqvi visited the national team at Kakul to inspect their training and expressed his gratitude to the Pakistan Army for arranging the fitness camp.

“I am highly inspired by the incredible dedication and high spirits of the national team players,” Naqvi said in a post on X.

A PCB statement said he interacted with the players, personally commending them for their dedication and active participation in the camp.

He also expressed his satisfaction with the players’ enthusiasm and commitment towards enhancing their fitness levels.

“In addition to meeting with the players, chairman PCB also held a meeting with the selection committee to talk about the team’s selection ahead of the New Zealand T20I series. The meeting was also attended by captain Babar Azam. Chairman PCB also took the members into confidence on the developments made by the board regarding the appointment of head coach,” the PCB said.

The PCB selectors were mulling over who would be the next Pakistan captain despite Shaheen showing no intent to give up the armband after one series in charge, a 4-1 Twenty20 drubbing in New Zealand in January this year.

As per the PCB, it wasn’t Shaheen’s failure against the Black Caps but his history of injuries that may lead to the pacer’s potential unavailability in the future, a reason which made the selection committee replace him with Babar as skipper.

But as 29 Pakistan probables, including Babar and Shaheen, have been toiling in a fitness camp at the country’s premier military academy in Kakul since Tuesday, the selectors, it had emerged, had kept Shaheen in the dark over the developments regarding the captaincy.

Meanwhile, they had offered the role to Babar, who had set his conditions “too harsh” for taking up the mantle again, as per Dawn’s understanding. That forced the PCB to send the selectors to Kakul to meet Babar, who, according to sources, demanded captaincy of all three formats, complete authority as skipper and a lenient hand from the board in case of failure.

The PCB’s final decision suggested it gave in to conditions set by Babar, who was still not confirmed as the Test captain.

With veteran players Imad Wasim and Mohammad Amir back into contention for a place in the Pakistan squad for the T20 World Cup extravaganza after having rescinded their respective retirements recently following negotiations with the PCB, Babar will have a challenge at hand.

Both players have been critical of Babar’s approach as captain while the right-hander has generally been accused of demonstrating favouritism in the national team selection.

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