Unrest in Pak dressing room? Controversies mar Misbah and Co's World Cup campaign

Feb 18, 2015, 19:06 IST | Agencies

Pakistan's World Cup campaign rocked by fresh controversy with reports claiming that senior players including Shahid Afridi and Umar Akmal misbehaved with fielding coach Grant Luden

Karachi: Pakistan's World Cup campaign hit another snag when the national team's fielding coach Grant Luden reportedly quit and then withdrew his resignation after complaining of misbehaviour from three senior players.

Even before the tournament started, eight members of Pakistan's 15-man squad -- including Shahid Afridi and Ahmed Shehzad -- were fined $300 each by team management for breaking a curfew. Days later Pakistan suffered a 76-run defeat by defending champions India in their tournament opener in Adelaide, the team's sixth successive loss to their arch-rivals at the World Cup.

Initial reports in the Pakistan media on Tuesday said Luden had resigned after an argument with Afridi, opener Shehzad and batsman-cum wicketkeeper Umar Akmal following Sunday's Pool B loss.

According to details in the incident, which is yet to be confirmed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Luden complained that Shahid Afridi, Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal had misbehaved with him during a training session on Tuesday.

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"Luden had sent a message to the PCB chairman threatening to resign as he could not tolerate such insulting behaviour from the players," one source said.

Grant Luden and Grant Flower
Pakistani cricket team batting coach Grant Flower (R) and fielding coach Grant Luden (L). File Pic/AFP

Luden apparently complained to Shahryar Khan that some of the players were not cooperating with him in the training sessions that hindered his work.

"Luden has complained that the three players allegedly used abusive language on Tuesday."

Luden has in his message to Khan threatened that if the players don't change their behaviour he will resign from his post.

The source said that after getting the message, the PCB chairman had spoken to the team manager, Naved Cheema, head coach Waqar Younis and Luden and discussed the issue with them.

"He has assured Luden his concerns will be looked into and the players will not be allowed to misbehave in future," the source added.

Interestingly, the training regime being implemented by Waqar and his team of coaches has already apparently become a sore point in the team with some players who have complained that they are left exhausted before matches by the tough schedule.

The team management is also under fire for their selections made for the opening match against India which Pakistan lost on Sunday.

Luden, a member of Pakistan coach Waqar Younis's backroom staff, was hired as fielding coach in May last year on a two-year contract.

But the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) denied Luden had resigned after the India match.

"Reports stating that there has been a tiff between three players, Afridi, Shehzad and Akmal and fielding coach Luden and that the latter has resigned because of it, are absolutely false and that nothing of the sort has happened," said a PCB statement issued on Wednesday.

"The entire team trained together in Christchurch on Tuesday under the supervision of head coach Waqar Younis with each of the other coaches, where some players were put through their paces by all coaches, with Luden putting in an extra hour on both days with a select group of players," the statement added.

Nevertheless, the PCB also admitted Luden had offered to resign before the World Cup started.

"A few days prior to the start of the World Cup 2015, Luden had expressed his desire that for personal reasons, he would want to be relieved of his duties sometime in May 2015," the board statement said.

"Subsequently, as his issues were resolved, he took his resignation back. The PCB and the team management as well as the boys hold the job he is doing in high esteem, and are keen that he continues to serve in his present role."

Pakistan also has former Zimbabwe batsman Grant Flower as its batting coach. Pakistan continue their World Cup campaign against the West Indies in Christchurch on Saturday.

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