Karachi: The announcement by Pakistan's T20 skipper Shahid Afridi that he might reconsider his decision to retire after the World T20 in India has left the national cricket selectors and cricket board in a spin.
A well-informed source in the board and also close to the selectors said that Afridi's hint at reconsidering his retirement decision has left everyone surprised. "The chief selector has already had discussions with the Chairman of the board on Pakistan's future plans after the World T20 in the post Afridi retirement scenario," the source told PTI.
In the past too, Afridi, who finally retired from one-day internationals last year after the World Cup, has taken U-turns on retirement decisions. Afridi, 36, told the media in Dubai at the end of the Pakistan Super League that he is under "a lot of pressure" from family, friends and elders who believe "there is no need to retire from T20s".
"For a while now there is a lot of pressure from my family, a lot of pressure from my friends, including my elders, who say there is no need for me to retire from T20.
That is a huge pressure. For now, in truth, I am focusing only on the World Cup. That is a huge challenge for me," Afridi had told a leading cricket website.
Chief selector Haroon Rasheed when contacted said right now everyone was just focusing on how the team performs in the Asia Cup and World T20. "It is always a player's prerogative when to retire and Afridi is no different. But I think he has also made it clear the scenario will be clear for him as well after the World T20. So we have to wait and see," he said.
A senior board official told PTI that they had also asked Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq to be clear on whether he is available to lead the team to England this summer or not after the World T20 conclusion.
"The board wants to have a clear picture on all three formats of the game after the World T20 as to who is available and who will retire and that includes Misbah and Afridi as well," he said.
Afridi said in his interview that he would first see where Pakistan stand in the World Cup and also see where he stood himself but his energy and fitness were top notch.
Afridi, who has also played 27 Tests (from which he retired in 2010 midway through the tour to England) and 90 Twenty20 internationals, said that he is under high pressure to continue playing cricket as "there is no real talent coming through Pakistan".
But a national selector said there was talent in Pakistan and the board had its plans to make use of it. Former Test bowler Sarfaraz Nawaz also felt that Afridi shouldn't worry about who would replace him.
"I think he has had his run and it is time he realizes this. No one is indispensable and there is always a replacement although it might take some time for the replacement to be groomed properly," Nawaz said.
Pakistan's former captain and top batsman, Muhammad Yousuf said he was a bit confused by Afridi's statement. "If he was not sure about retiring after the World T20 why announce this last year. No doubt he has given lot of service to Pakistan cricket but I think it is time for us to move on in all formats," Yousuf said.
The World T20, set to be held in India, kicks off on March 8 with a qualifying round for the associate teams, while the Super 10 round commences from March 16.