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Monday, July 11, 2011

Shahid Afridi on a roll for Hampshire - ROUTERS

: Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi seems to have all the issues behind him as the all-rounder enjoys his county stint for Hampshire where he has won three man-of-the-match awards in five matches. PHOTO: FILE AFP
KARACHI:  Shahid Afridi seems to have left his tussle with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) far behind him as the former captain enjoys a successful run with his county side Hampshire.
The all-rounder, who has featured in five matches for Hampshire since ending his dispute with the board that revoked his NOC to play abroad, said he is finally at ease now.
“I’m a relaxed man now,” Afridi told The Express Tribune from Southampton. “The problems I went through seem to be far behind me.
“I have my family around me and it’s a pleasure to be with my children during gaps in the matches. The atmosphere here is great and I am enjoying playing cricket.”
Afridi was removed from One-Day International (ODI) captaincy after his remarks on the team management’s interference in selection matters irked the PCB. The all-rounder responded by announcing his retirement followed by the board revoking his NOC to play in foreign leagues and suspending his central contract.
The dispute took a legal turn with Afridi approaching the Sindh High Court where he filed a petition against the board sanctions. However, the matter was settled out of court with Afridi paying a Rs4.5 million fine and in turn getting the NOC to play for Hampshire.
Now, with five matches in the ongoing Friends Life T20 tournament, his performance has impressed many.
Content with performance
The all-rounder has claimed 13 wickets at an average of just over 6, the best among bowlers who have taken more than 10 wickets in the tournament.
“I didn’t get time to practice because of the issue with the PCB.
“The West Indies matches were the last ones I had played. But I had the confidence to do well and I am happy with the way I have performed so far.”
However, Afridi, who is yet to show his mettle with the bat in the tournament said he was also looking to improve his batting form.
“I’m working hard on improving my performance,” said the hard-hitting batsman.
“I’m not the best choice to open the innings as Hampshire have a very good opening combination.
“But I will speak to the team management about promoting me up the order.”
Hampshire offers contract for one-dayers
While the fate of foreign players signed to play the forthcoming Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) appears bleak due to financial constraints, Afridi is considering accepting Hampshire’s offer to feature in their one-day campaign as well.
“Although I have not received an official message, I am getting hints about the SLPL’s decision to exclude foreign players.
“If this happens I will extend my county stint at Hampshire. I’ve received an offer to feature in their one-day campaign as well.”
Close to finalising Melbourne deal
The experienced all-rounder also looks certain to participate at this year’s Big Bash Twenty20 competition that takes place in Australia in December.
“I’m getting offers from various Australian sides,” said Afridi, who represented South Australia at the 2009 event.
“The Big Bash is also a good competition and I’m looking forward to playing there as well,” said Afridi while declining to comment on a possible return to international cricket.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2011.

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