Afridi`s appointment surprises ex-players

Karachi: The decision to appoint Shahid Afridi captain in all three formats of the game, especially Tests, came in for sharp criticism from former Pakistani players who feel the move is a big gamble and could backfire as the all-rounder was not a regular in the five-day side.

Former captain Zaheer Abbas was stunned by the decision and said the selectors should have given more thought on the captaincy issue.

"I am really surprised at the board`s decision because he has not played a Test in the last four years," Abbas said.

"It is a strange decision and one that could badly backfire because Shahid (Afridi) has not been a regular Test player and his last test was in 2006. So how can the board give him the captaincy for two very tough series against Australia and England," he said.

"I don`t think there was a hurry to announce the captain for the England tour. The board could have waited for the Asia Cup to begin and then decide who was the best choice to lead Pakistan in the Tests," Abbas added.

Abbas pointed out that Test cricket was unlike Twenty20 and ODIs where luck played a big part.

"Test matches are the real challenge and no player can hide his weaknesses or issues in a Test match," he said.

Former captain and ex-chief selector Aamir Sohail was equally disappointed with Afridi`s appointment and said it would be tough for the 30-year-old all-rounder to lead the Pakistan in England.

"The board has taken its decision but it is a debatable one. It is a big gamble. I think Shahid (Afridi) will be really tested in England as he has been out of the Test side for four years now," Sohail said.

Sources said that another former skipper Javed Miandad was also not in favour of Afridi`s appointment as Test captain and had even conveyed his reservation to the PCB chief Ejaz Butt.

However, former selector Abdul Qadir has backed Afridi`s appointment and said it was a step in the right direction.

"I think the board should have done this much earlier. I don`t know why they delayed it. I would also urge the PCB to name Salman Butt as vice-captain for the Asia Cup and England tour," the former leg-spinner said.

"In the existing circumstances he (Afridi) is the best choice and I think he should continue until the board is able to groom a vice-captain properly," he said.

Qadir backed former skippers Younus Khan and Shoaib Malik`s inclusion in the 35-man list of probables for the Asia Cup and the subsequent tour of England.

"What has happened has happened and I think we should not waste our best players at this level," he said.



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