Afridi wants to lead Pakistan to World Cup glory
London: Former Pakistan Test captain Shahid Afridi vowed to return to England today, saying the limited over series starting next month will be the launch pad for his ambitions to win the 2011 World Cup.
The 30-year-old announced he would retire from Test cricket after the second and final Test against Australia at Leeds starting Wednesday, citing a lack of temperament for the five-day game.
His announcement came minutes after he led Pakistan to a 150-run defeat against Australia in the first Test on Friday, where Afridi slogged 31 in the first innings and hold out for two in the second.
But a side strain meant the batsman was ruled out of the second Test and he was released from the Pakistan squad which, after the Australia series, will stay on to play four Tests against England.
However, Afridi - who led Pakistan to the 2009 World Twenty20 title - is determined to return for the subsequent limited over series against England.
“I took a decision which I felt was right and now all my concentration is on the limited overs series against England which will be our first step towards winning next year’s World Cup,” Afridi told a news agency.
“I have won the World Twenty20, beaten England and India in Tests at home and have achieved some other milestones as well, but before I leave the game I want to win the World Cup,” he added ahead of next year’s tournament in Asia, where Pakistan will try to add to their lone World Cup title won in 1992.
Opener Salman Butt will lead Pakistan at Leeds and in the Tests against England.
“Butt must take coach Waqar Younis and others with him because this team will be tested against England,” said Afridi who may join English county side Hampshire if they qualify for the domestic Twenty20 quarter-finals.
“I had to abandon the contract with Hampshire because I was here for the Test series but now they want me to play the last three matches of the Twenty20, provided they qualify,” said Afridi, known as a Twenty20 specialist.
Afridi rubbished speculation his Test retirement came after differences with Pakistan team-mates.
“This team was unified and there were no problems, nothing. I took the decision in the best interest of the team and hope a youngster with a Test temperament takes my position.”
“I also feel that there are other players who are not fit for the longer version of the game and my advice to them is to concentrate on the shorter forms,” said Afridi, without naming names.
Afridi hopes a month’s break will revive him for the two Twenty20 and five one-day internationals against World Twenty20 champions England which follow the Test series.
“I will be fresh for the limited over series which will be very tough because England have been doing very well in both ODIs and T20s, so if we could beat them it would be good for the progress of the team,” said Afridi.
Pakistan’s one-day squad is due to announced next month.