Afridi named Pakistan skipper
Shahid Afridi has been named as Pakistan’s captain in all formats of the game, despite having not played a Test match for almost four years.
The 30-year-old all-rounder, who was already the Twenty20 skipper, will lead Pakistan in next month’s Asia Cup and the following Test and limited-overs series against Australia and England.
Afridi becomes Pakistan’s third Test captain in 15 months after the previous incumbents, Younus Khan and Mohammad Yousuf, were both indefinitely banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board for alleged infighting during the disastrous winter tour of Australia.
Afridi was himself sanctioned following the tour, when he bit the ball during a one-day international at Perth, but is set to lead the team after announcing earlier this week his intention to return to Test cricket.
The last of Afridi’s 26 Test appearance was against England at Old Trafford in July 2006.
"We requested Afridi to take on the Test captaincy and he very graciously accepted," PCB chairman Ijaz Butt said at a press conference today.
The PCB also named a 35-man squad for the upcoming tours today, which included banned duo Younus and another former skipper, Shoaib Malik.
Both are appealing their bans to the PCB, Shoaib was suspended for a year, and could make unexpected returns if successful.
Seven players were sanctioned after the tour of Australia, when Pakistan failed to win a single game, with Rana Naved-ul-Hasan also handed a one-year ban while Kamran and Umar Akmal were both fined £40,000.
Those suspensions left Pakistan short on experience at the recent ICC World Twenty20, where they suffered a heartbreaking semi-final defeat to Australia, and Afridi said the return of such players was vital.
He revealed he had already tried to talk Yousuf out of retirement, after he quit the international game following his suspension, while veteran quick Shoaib Akhtar is also in the squad.
"It will be good if we can get back Younus and Shoaib because the team will be stronger with them in it," Afridi said.
"England is always a difficult challenge as a tour and you need experienced players on it. The mix has to be right between juniors and seniors."
Speaking about Yousuf’s possible return, Afridi added: “I talked to him on telephone yesterday and requested him to reconsider his retirement, but he refused to do so.
“I still believe Yousuf can play international cricket for two to three more years.”
Afridi’s inclusion in the Test party means he will be unable to join Hampshire for this season’s Friends Provident t20.
Pakistan squad of probables: Shahid Afridi (captain), Kamran Akmal (wkt), Zulqarnain Haider (wkt) Salman Butt, Imran Farhat, Yasir Hameed, Khurram Manzoor, Shahzaib Hasan, Azhar Ali, Azeem Ghumman, Younus Khan, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Faisal Iqbal, Fawad Alam, Hasan Raza, Asad Shafiq, Umar Amin, Aamer Sajjad, Mohammad Hafeez, Abdul Razzaq, Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Sami, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan, Tanvir Ahmed, Aizaz Cheema, Danish Kaneria, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar.