Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik has announced that he believes Shahid Afridi is the best candidate to captain the national team during the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Afridi captained Pakistan in all three formats between 2010 to 2011. However, even though he was appointed Twenty20 captain in 2009, numerous controversies occurred during his tenure as skipper, including him being banned for two Twenty20 Internationals for biting the ball during the Commonwealth Bank ODI series in Australia.
Another major incident that occurred was the match-fixing scandal during the fourth Test against England at Lord’s, which involved Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir. The trio were found guilty and subsequently banned for five years each.
Finally, Afridi’s downfall as captain came when he didn’t see eye to eye with head coach Waqar Younis. This had a negative effect on his form with both the bat and ball, and ultimately led to him being stripped of his captaincy.
Malik also noted that Pakistan desperately need a new ODI captain after Misbah-ul-Haq failed to lead his side to victory in the recently concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka. With the series tied 1-1 heading into the final ODI in Dambulla, Pakistan choked and were bowled out for a dreary 102, which allowed Sri Lanka to waltz their way to a comfortable seven-wicket victory via the Duckworth-Lewis method and take the series 2-1.
With the World Cup rapidly approaching, Malik called on the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to not waste any more time. He stated that Afridi needs to be in charge of the ODI team for a while so that he can get accustomed to his role as captain and be more prepared by the time the World Cup begins.
“I don’t know what the board has in mind but if they are thinking about changing the captaincy they should do it now because there is little time left before the World Cup,” Malik said. “Afridi is a senior player and aggressive by nature and I think if the board decides to replace Misbah then Afridi is the best person to lead the side in the World Cup. He is strong willed and can lead by example in the mega event.”
While Malik is confident in Afridi’s abilities to lead the national team during the World Cup, he isn’t so convinced about his own abilities even though he was skipper from 2007 to 2009. However, he did say that if the PCB were to offer him the opportunity to captain the national team, he would do so after the biggest 50-over tournament in the world, which only happens once every four years.
“Even if the board offers me the captaincy, I will only do it after the World Cup 2015 and then try to groom a new team,” he said. “Because it is a fact that after the World Cup some of our senior players will fade away.
“I don’t think this is the right time for me to be captain and right now honestly speaking my focus is only on winning back my place in the national side again.”
Malik added that the PCB have to start taking decisions that are beneficial to the team instead of their own agenda.
“This team is neither that of the Board or any other individual, it belongs to and represents the people of Pakistan and those decisions should be taken which are in the interest of the team and country,” he said.