Akram surprised at PCB not naming the captain for World Cup

Karachi: Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram has expressed surprise over the decision of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to withhold the name of the captain while announcing the 15-member squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup to be held in the sub-continent from February 19.

"It is a strange practice to me and it only means that it gives many players an idea that they are contenders for the captaincy and that could spoil the spirit in the dressing room," Akram told reporters at a cricket writers’ function.

"The captain should have been announced first and the squad should have been picked with his input to the selectors as well," he added.

The former fast bowling great said that the board should not waste anymore time in announcing the World Cup captain.

"If the board is waiting to see how Afridi performs as captain in the one-day series in New Zealand I don`t think that is a wise move because this is not the time to change the captain. For the World Cup they must persist with Afridi," said Akram.

Pakistan will play the six-match one-day series against New Zealand from January 22 to February 5.

Akram also refused to agree that even if the three players -- Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif -- were cleared of the spot-fixing charges on February 5, they would be in the proper state of mind to play the World Cup.

"Even if any of these players are cleared I don`t think it would be a good idea to include them into the World Cup squad because they were suspended in September and since then have have been going through a lot of mental pressure and stress.”

"I think it would be better to give them some time to settle down and then include them into the national team," said the former pacer.

Akram, who led Pakistan in two World Cup in 1996 and 1999, guiding the team to the final of the `99 edition, was also a member of the 1992 winning squad.

He said that the batting would play an important role on the generally slow pitches in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"It is a fallacy to think that the pitches would be tailor made for spinners. Yes, they will get help but the most important thing would be to put enough runs on the board. And I think it is the batting on which the Pakistan team should focus a lot"

The former captain backed the decision of the selectors to include youngsters Ahmed Shehzad and Asad Shafiq in the World Cup squad.

"I think the selectors didn`t go with Mohammad Yousuf`s experience because they had doubts and issues with his fitness. But Shehzad and Shafiq are good young talented players and can deliver in the World Cup," Akram said.

Akram said overall Pakistan had announced a good balanced side for the World Cup which had the firepower to go to the final stages.

"You can never ignore the Pakistani team from achieving any target, so they will always been among the front-runners," added Akram.

PTI

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