Even as Pakistan look to get back to sanity following the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, the Pakistan captain is not entirely happy with the decision of the fast bowler, coming as it did in the middle of the World Cup campaign.
Shahid Afridi was in an apologetic mood with the Pakistan fans but the one place the Pakistan captain is not quite in the same consoling mood is with respect to the decision of Shoaib Akhtar to retire, and announcing it in the middle of the tournament.
Akhtar took time in between Pakistan’s ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 campaign to announce that he was indeed calling time on his cricket career for Pakistan at the end of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. That decision followed speculation about Akhtar’s role in the rest of the campaign and it is perhaps why Afridi is not too amused of the timing of the decision.
Akhtar’s announcement came at a time when there was a great deal of speculation about whether Afridi and the Pakistan coach, Waqar Younis, had enough faith that Akhtar could complete his ten overs in every match. What did not help Akhtar was that his best bowling was not backed up, particularly in the wicket keeping department. Akhtar was eventually not picked for the India v Pakistan ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 semi final as previously predicted although Pakistan played it down with the injury and fitness concern but not quite as convincingly with conspiracy theories doing the rounds.
The intense scrutiny even had some reports suggesting that Akhtar-Kamran Akmal bust up in training led to the decision eventually from Akhtar while others suggested that Akhtar knew he would not be given another chance. It was perhaps the intense media attention on Pakistan that did not sit well with the skipper which is why Afridi is not seeing eye to eye with Akhtar on the issue of the timing of the latter’s retirement.
Given the fact that the Pakistan cricket team has had to deal with a lot of issues following the spot fixing scandal and the constant scrutiny through the trial of the three Pakistan cricketers – Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt, perhaps Afridi saw Shoaib Akhtar’s decision as bringing the attention back to the problems in the Pakistan dressing room rather than steering them towards Pakistan’s performance.