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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Afridi ‘disappointed’ by Butt criticism

KARACHI: Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi said Saturday he was disappointed by criticism of his captaincy from the country’s cricket chief Ijaz Butt, who accused him of causing the team to lose matches against West Indies in May.
“I am disappointed because such petty things coming from the head of the board were unwarranted,” Afridi told AFP by telephone from London.
“He himself made me captain, and everyone, from experts to fans, praised my leadership and the unity in the team,” he said, adding that there was a “campaign” to damage his reputation.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Butt lashed out at former one-day captain Afridi in a television interview aired Thursday, saying he would not lead the team again.
“In my opinion, perhaps considered wrong by some people, he made us lose the fourth and fifth one-dayers (against the West Indies in May this year),”Butt said.
“As far as I am concerned he is not captaincy material for the PCB any more.”
Butt dumped Afridi after Pakistan won the one-day series against the West Indies 3-2, during which the former captain developed differences with coach Waqar Younis.
Afridi subsequently breached his contract by announcing his retirement from international cricket and criticising the PCB for mistreating senior players.
The PCB suspended his contract, revoked his permission to play abroad and directed him to appear before a disciplinary committee.
Afridi took the PCB to court but finally agreed on an out-of-court settlement that saw him fined 4.5 million rupees (52,000 dollars) but granted him permission to play for Hampshire in the Twenty20 league in England.
Afridi said he was a victim of character assassination. “I can say a lot of things in reply but I don’t want to involve myself in that,” said Afridi, who took 21 wickets in this year’s World Cup —joint highest with India’s paceman Zaheer Khan.
“There is a campaign against me and I can say a lot of things against my accusers, but I am advised not to say anything. I reserve my rights, and will speak if they don’t stop.”
Afridi said that the team had showed unity under his captaincy following the spot-fixing scandal in England last year.
“The unity in the team was praised by coach (Waqar) and manager (Intikhab Alam) on a number of occasions during the World Cup, and it was only because of that we were able to beat Australia in a World Cup match after 12 years,” he said.
Afridi said he will also play league cricket in Australia later this year.

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