Afridi to get NOC to play for Hampshire

Karachi: Former Pakistan cricket captain Shahid Afridi was all set to receive a No Objection Certificate from the country`s cricket board to play in an ongoing English Twenty20 event after the allrounder withdrew his petition against the board from the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday.

The development took place within less than 24 hours of Afridi and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt meeting in Islamabad Tuesday under the gaze of senior government officials.
Sources revealed that during the meeting Butt agreed to reissue an NOC to Afridi to play professional cricket abroad provided the all-rounder withdrew his court case against the Board. Both parties agreed on a compromise after which Afridi withdrew his petition Wednesday.

Sources said the player will now appear before a PCB disciplinary committee. "The committee will recommend that the Board should reissue Afridi an NOC to play in England. It might also penalize the former captain but the punishment won`t be strict as was expected before the Afridi-Butt meeting," said the source.

Sources close to Afridi said the star cricketer will leave for London later this week to represent Hampshire in the English Twenty20 event - Friends Pro-t20.

The Afridi-PCB tussle has been branded as one of the biggest disputes between a player and the board in Pakistan`s cricket history.

The board had suspended Afridi`s central contract besides revoking all the No Objection Certificates granted to him. It was Afridi`s decision to talk about a rift in the team management last month that earned him the board`s wrath. Reacting to his comments, the board stripped him of captaincy for last month`s two-match One-day International series against Ireland. Ten days later, Afridi took a swipe at the Board accusing it of ill-treatment and announced that he is retiring from international cricket.

It`s not clear whether Afridi will make himself available for national duty but it does seem certain that he will be featuring in the remaining Friends Pro-t20 matches for Hampshire. Meanwhile, Hampshire officials have revealed that they had mulled over the idea of replacing Afridi with West Indian star Chris Gayle.

"We`ve remained hopeful all along, and we are very hopeful that an announcement can be made soon," Rod Bransgrove, Hampshire`s chairman, told a website. "But we cannot say anything more definitive beyond that at this stage."

"We had to look at all contingency options, and Chris Gayle`s name was one of those names that came into the frame," Bransgrove said. "But we have remained hopeful all along that Afridi would receive clearance to join us for the remainder of the Twenty20 campaign," he added.