Afridi wants another crack at international cricket

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Pakistan’s former skipper Shahid Afridi on Wednesday indicated another U-turn on retirement saying he was waiting for suitable time for a return to the national team. “I would try making a comeback to the national team as soon as ‘conditions improve in the team management and administration,” Afridi was reported to have said. Afridi Wednesday left for England to play for Hampshire insisting that his international career was still not over. The all-rounder, who was removed as captain of the national one-day team last month and then got entangled into a tussle with the Pakistan Cricket Board before being fined Rs 4.5 million on disciplinary grounds, will appear for Hampshire in the English domestic Twenty20 competition.
“I am happy that I am getting a chance to play for Hampshire because wherever I play I am recognised as a Pakistani and if I do well, it is Pakistan cricket that gets a good name,” Afridi told reporters at the Karachi airport. Afridi, who left with his family, will play his first match for the county on Friday against Gloucestershire and will remain in England until July 15 before going to Sri Lanka for the Sri Lankan Premier League. The all-rounder had to return from England earlier this month to face PCB’s disciplinary hearing after the NOC issued to him to play for Hampshire was revoked by the Board as part of the disciplinary proceedings against him.
The Board issued him the NOC after he appeared before the disciplinary committee and admitted that breached the code of conduct and was subsequently fined for his misconduct. “I want to play for Pakistan again because whatever I am today it is because of Pakistan. My identity is that of a Pakistani player. And nothing is more important than that for me,” Afridi said. “The moment conditions improve in the team management and the administration, I will try to make a comeback. Right now I just feel that the environment and conditions are not conducive for me to play international cricket. I still have a lot of cricket left in me but it all depends on the circumstances but I am clear in my mind that I still have a lot to offer to the national team,” he added.
Afridi said that he would not play for Pakistan until the present board set-up led by Chairman Ijaz Butt was changed. The all-rounder, who was sacked as captain after developing differences with the team management, admitted that he had been unable to focus on cricket in the last few weeks. “I have not been able to train which is why I appear to have put on some weight. It has been difficult to focus on cricket. But now I have put everything behind me and want to make a fresh start to my career with this stint for Hampshire,” he said.
Afridi said for the moment he would concentrate on domestic foreign leagues to keep himself ready for a return to international cricket. Afridi said that after getting NOC for the England county season, he was hopeful that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) would also award him with the NOC for Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) and Australian league. The former skipper, who is renowned for his aggressive power hitting, said that he was looking forward to work as Ambassador of United Nations. He rejected the impression that he was playing in the county season for money. He said that his first priority has always been to play for Pakistan and players get more money while playing for Pakistan as against these domestic stints.