KARACHI: Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi was on Wednesday among eight retired stars chosen by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as Champion Ambassadors for this summer’s ICC Champions Trophy which will be staged from June 1 to 18 in England and Wales.
Apart from the 37-year-old Afridi, who last month officially announced his retirement from international cricket to end months of speculation about his playing future, Bangladesh’s Habibul Bashar, Ian Bell of England, Shane Bond of New Zealand, Australia’s Mike Hussey, India’s Harbhajan Singh, Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka and Graeme Smith of South Africa were named as ambassadors with exactly 50 days to go before the first ball will be bowled in the opening game between England and Bangladesh at The Oval.
A delighted Afridi, while commenting on his appointment, said: “I feel humbled to have been appointed as an Ambassador for the ICC Champions Trophy. And to be part of a select group of some of the most respected and accomplished cricketers against whom I enjoyed playing international cricket is an icing on the cake. Three more Ambassadors and we would have made a tournament-winning XI.”
The flamboyant all-rounder, who scored 167 runs and claimed 14 wickets in 13 Champions Trophy appearances, backed Pakistan’s chances in the upcoming edition.
According to an ICC media release, the Champion Ambassadors, who between them have played 1,774 One-day Internationals, scored 51,906 runs with 48 centuries, and claimed 838 wickets, will be involved in the ICC Champions Trophy Nissan Trophy Tour and will also make appearances in the UK as part of an inspiring programme aimed at providing school children with an opportunity to meet and play with a legend at the Cricket For Good coaching clinics.
Moreover, the eight cricketers will be part of a strong ICC editorial team and will provide match previews and match analysis through exclusive columns which will be available on the ICC website for free download and editorial use.
The chief executive of the ICC, David Richardson said the choice of eight ambassadors would leave a legacy for cricket amongst younger generation of players and fans. “The programme will connect these greats of the game with a new generation of fans and players through our Cricket For Good project.
“The [selected] team will also bring great insight and expertise to fans via the ICC website and I’m sure we will all enjoy reading their analysis and opinions on 15 games during the Champions Trophy.”