“When I asked him before the third Test, his body was sore. And I need to look after him more than anything”

In defense of Pakistan’s choice to start the third Test without star fast bowler Shaheen Afridi, team director Mohammad Hafeez said he owed the Pakistan players a responsibility of care that went beyond individual matches and series. He said that the player had not made the ultimate decision; rather, it had been decided by the team management.Following Pakistan’s eight-wicket loss to Australia at the SCG, Hafeez stated that he had to put Afridi’s long-term career first. “He bowled really well in those two games and bowled the most of any bowler,” he stated. “His body hurt when I asked him before the third test. And above all, I have to take care of him.”

An already diminished Pakistan bowling assault, which had started the series without the injured Naseem Shah, the unavailable Haris Rauf, and the unfit Abrar Ahmed, was further undermined by Afridi’s exclusion. Shan Masood frequently went to Afridi in the first two games, demonstrating Pakistan’s trust on him in such situations. Afridi bowled just short of 100 overs in two Test matches. At the end of the second Test, off-spinner Nathan Lyon was the second-busiest bowler, having bowled fewer than 70 overs. No fast bowler, even those who played three Tests, bowled anywhere close to that amount.

For Afridi, the brief interval between the MCG and SCG Tests proved to be too much to handle. “We should take care of the person’s career if they believe that their aching body prevents them from giving their best work. I will never make a judgment that causes a player to miss six months or a year of action in their career. Although it was a difficult choice, we went with it because it would benefit the players. Since we are unable to decide that at the expense of a player’s career.”

There was a lot of discussion surrounding the suggestion to bench Afridi, with some claiming the PCB was favoring T20 cricket over the lengthier format. Former Pakistan fast bowlers Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram were the most vehement in their criticism, with Wasim disputing the idea that Afridi had been rested by the management, arguing that the player had made himself unavailable.

Wasim stated on Fox Cricket, “Let’s not pretend this has anything to do with the management.” “It is solely Shaheen’s decision. “Following this, there are five Twenty20 matches in New Zealand, with Shaheen Shah serving as captain. Who cares about T20 cricket, though? Cricketers should understand that Test cricket is the best form of the game, even though it’s there for entertainment and financial gain for players and cricket boards.”

Waqar described Afridi’s absence as “a real shocker” and claimed it “made me laugh”. Because he looked good in the previous games, I was anticipating him to play in this Test match. The pace was improving as he began to swing the ball and felt more like the former Shaheen Afridi.”

Afridi was named vice-captain of the Test team prior to the first Test in Perth, and captain of the Pakistan T20I series in November. His first assignment is a five-match T20I series in New Zealand from January 12 to January 21. He has not yet taken charge of a game. The PSL comes next, where Afridi captains the Lahore Qalandars, who have won two straight T20 titles under his leadership. June sees the United States and the West Indies host the T20 World Cup.


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