KARACHI: As the ‘farewell’ shenanigans seem to be settling down, another controversy promises to storm the cricketing circles as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is yet to decide on granting central contracts to former T20 captain Shahid Afridi and off-spin wizard Saeed Ajmal.
The PCB is expected to provide central contracts for the 2016-17 season in the next few weeks. However, veterans Afridi and Ajmal, who are presently contracted in the categories ‘A’ and ‘B’, earning Rs500,000 and Rs345,000 respectively, have not been in contention for the national side for quite some time.
If the Board decides against giving contracts to Afridi and Ajmal then the two will have to wait till June next year. By the time, the flamboyant all-rounder will have turned 37 and the spin maestro 39.
Afridi has not donned national colours since his side’s first round exit from the ICC World T20 in India earlier this year. Ajmal, on the other hand, vanished from the international cricket with the end of Pakistan’s post-World Cup tour of Bangladesh in 2015.
Afridi made headlines earlier this month when he expressed his desire to play a farewell T20 during the three-match series against the West Indies, concluded last night, to get an honourable exit.
However, his dream of being accorded a graceful retirement from international cricket was abruptly put on a backburner, after he was overlooked for the 15-member Pakistan squad for the West Indies Twenty20 series.
Afridi, however, had quashed such reports, saying: “This is completely incorrect. If I really wanted to leave, I would have left after the World Twenty20 but I did not want to go that way. Having played for so many years, I have earned the right to leave the game in a good way.”
A tweet from PCB executive committee chairman Najam Sethi last week raised speculation that Ajmal and fellow veteran Afridi were set to announce their retirement from the international game.
But Ajmal says he’s still desperate to force his way back into the national set-up, 18 months since he last represented his country, and pointed to his starring role in the recent National T20 Cup as proof that he should be given another chance.