Captaincy crisis: Shaheen Afridi and PCB hold talks following statement misattribution

LAHORE – The turmoil around the leadership of Pakistan’s cricket team has deepened, with Shaheen Afridi reportedly incensed over a press statement on the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) official website that falsely attributed certain comments to him. As per reports, Afridi was close to publicly addressing the issue, prompting the PCB to engage in urgent discussions with him. An impromptu session with PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi is scheduled for Monday (today).

Afridi is reportedly dismayed by the PCB’s actions during the recent captaincy reversal, claiming he was never consulted for a statement before the PCB released one right after reinstating Babar Azam as captain. This press release falsely quoted Shaheen expressing full support for Babar Azam and calling his own previous captaincy tenure an “honour.”

The alleged statement read, “I will always value the memories and the opportunity to lead. Supporting our captain, Babar Azam, is my responsibility as a team player. Having played under his leadership, I hold immense respect for him and am ready to assist him both on and off the field. We stand united in our goal to make Pakistan the top cricket team globally.”

However, it is believed that Afridi did not contribute to this statement, exacerbating the unrest within the Pakistan team. This instability follows the PCB’s inconsistent decisions on the team captaincy, highlighted by Chairman Naqvi’s refusal to endorse Afridi during a press briefing in Lahore, suggesting a decision post the military training camp at Kakul, although Afridi’s dismissal seemed imminent.

Shaheen is reportedly confused about the reasons for his replacement and is upset over the PCB’s poor communication. The PCB’s efforts to mitigate the situation with a fabricated exchange of praises between Babar and Shaheen has only aggravated the situation.

The switch of captaincy from Shaheen back to Babar could potentially strain the relationship between two of Pakistan’s cricket luminaries, who have previously shared a good rapport, with Shaheen supporting Babar’s leadership last year when it seemed at risk.

Afridi’s evident dissatisfaction has propelled the PCB into a reactive stance, seeking a non-inflammatory resolution to this escalating conflict. Naqvi and the PCB are likely to try to mollify Afridi and resolve the underlying tension, though the effectiveness of these efforts is yet to be determined.

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