Shahid Afridi has emerged as the favourite to become Pakistan’s new one-day captain and might even take over the reins of the national team for Tests next month.
The experienced all-rounder has proved himself as a reliable and aggressive captain in Twenty20 Internationals and when the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will sit down next month to take a decision on a new skipper, he will certainly be on the top of the ist.
‘The News’ has learnt through well-placed sources in the Pakistan team that Afridi has the support of most of his teammates, who are not really pleased with the captaincy of Mohammad Yousuf on the ongoing tour of Australia. Those players are also averse to the idea of Younis Khan staging a comeback as the captain and would push for the case of Afridi if taken into confidence by senior PCB officials.
“Afridi bhai is the most suitable person for captaincy,” a member of the Pakistan team told this correspondent. “He is widely respected as a senior player and is admired for his aggressive style,” the player added.
His fellow teammates are not the only ones throwing their weight behind Afridi. Some of the team officials are also of the view that he should succeed Yousuf as the next Pakistan captain, preferably for all three formats.
“The problem with Yousuf is that he lacks leadership qualities,” said a team official who spoke to this correspondent on the condition of anonymity. “Afridi, in contrast, is the sort of player who can get the best out of his players. He knows how to command and guide them on the field. I’m sure he can be a good captain,” added the official.
Afridi, 29, is currently one of the most experienced players in the team with solid one-day credentials. He has scored 5878 runs besides taking 270 wickets from 289 ODIs. The flamboyant Pakistan vice-captain has also scored 1683 runs at 37.40 from 26 Tests but is on a semi-retirement from Test cricket.
However, Afridi has changed his mind about the longest format of the game and wants to make his Test comeback. In recent years, he has improved as a legspinner which is why many of his supporters believe Afridi can be a valuable player in Tests as well.Afridi is Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain and will be at the helm of their title defence in the ICC World Twenty20 championship to be held in the Caribbean this May.
Apart from him, other candidates for captaincy in the Pakistan team are former skipper Shoaib Malik, Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal. The three are very close to each other and have the support of a couple of more players, especially Umar Akmal — Kamran’s younger brother.
Moin stepped down as captain last November after declaring that he had lost the command of his team, is unwilling to take over the captaincy again. In any case, the senior batsman is not being considered for the job because of his failure to handle the team during his nine-month stint that began last February with the home series agaimst Sri Lanka.