On the last day of Ganesh Visarjan in Mumbai, as news reports were trickling in, suggesting that the flamboyant all-rounder – Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi had hinted at a possible settlement with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which could see him make a graceful and face-saving exit from all international cricket, Indian model and actress Arshi Khan made her protest felt very strongly.
Speaking to an Indian website Arshi Khan said, “Afridi is still young and fit as a fiddle. He is still in form and must be given a chance to play again in all forms of cricket. It will be a great loss for Pakistan if Afridi is shunted out at this stage.” When asked how could she judge if Afridi is fit and in form, she quipped,“who else knows about Afridi’s stamina and prowess better than me.”
Making her displeasure felt in no uncertain terms, Arshi Khan told Indian news portal IndiaNewsNetwork.IN that she will vociferously protest against the decision of the PCB by organizing a nude dharna outside the Pakistan embassy in Delhi if the PCB does not revoke its decision within three weeks
Afridi’s self-proclaimed girl friend, said that Afridi was an asset for Pakistan and the Pakistani people must also stand up and speak for their captain. “Maybe, he may not be selected as captain and a younger player could be given the captain’s job, but Afridi should not be thrown out of all forms of first class cricket,” Arshi Khan opined.
Meanwhile, according to a Firstpost report, Afridi told the media in Karachi that there was no pressure from him on the Board for any agreement nor any pressure on him from the PCB but noted that players need to retire gracefully. He said that he had discussed his future with the chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, who had given him a plan to think about. “I have always noted that in Pakistan there is no tradition of players retiring gracefully, even the big names. Every player wants to go out on a high and a I am no different,” he said. There has been speculation that the PCB and its selectors might include Afridi in the national T20 squad for the coming series against the West Indies in the UAE and the all-rounder would retire at the end of the series, allowing the PCB to give him a proper farewell in Dubai at the end of this month.
Afridi has already retired from the Test and 50-over formats of international cricket.
The flamboyant all-rounder felt that players who had served their country for long years including himself deserved to be given a proper tribute and send-off. “Players must exit respectfully since the ones who serve the country with distinction deserve honour. I have had a discussion with Inzi Bhai (Inzamamul Haq) who is an elder to me and we will do what is beneficial to both Pakistan cricket and my own self,” he said.
Afridi stepped down as captain after Pakistan’s poor showing in the Asia Cup and World T20 earlier this year and has since than been ignored by the selectors for the T20 international against England and for the series against the West Indies, raising question marks over his future as a Pakistan player.
Afridi also said that he firmly believed that the PCB was the head of the family and needed to have better communication with the players. “This would allow players to decide themselves when it is the right time for them to retire gracefully and with dignity.” He said he wanted to retire after the World T20 on a happy note but the poor performance did not allow this to happen.