Ball-tampering Afridi leads tour of England

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The Independent Online

Given that he was captured on television tampering with the ball by biting it during a one-day international in Perth in January, and subsequently banned for two Twenty20 internationals, Shahid Afridi may not seem perfect captaincy material. When you also take into account that he has not played a Test match for Pakistan since 2006, his selection to lead the tour of England does seem somewhat perverse.

Nonetheless, Pakistani cricket has thrived in the past despite its evident disfunctionality and it must be acknowledged that Afridi can be a thrilling cricketer. The Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, Ijaz Butt, made the announcement in Lahore yesterday, confirming Afridi as the country's third Test captain in 15 months after Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf were indefinitely suspended by the PCB due to alleged infighting.

Interestingly, the selection committee also included Younis in a list of 35 probable players, subject to his pending appeal against the suspension.

After his indefinite ban, Yousuf retired from international cricket. Afridi said he tried to persuade Yousuf to come out of retirement. "I asked him to reconsider his retirement, but he refused to do so," said Afridi, who added that Yousuf was coaching in Canada.

Afridi has not played a Test since taking on England at Manchester in 2006. "I have taken up this as a challenge because I feel Pakistan is going through some tough times now and it needs the guidance of senior players," he said. "If we play as a unit, I am hopeful of good results.

"Definitely, there will be the pressure of captaincy on me, but a player can only be judged when he competes under pressure."

Pakistan will compete in the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka next month before playing two Tests against Australia in England in July and four Tests against England.

Former captain Shoaib Malik, who was also suspended for one year and fined two million rupees (£29,600) for ill discipline during the series in Australia, was included in the 35 players.

"Both Younis and Malik's inclusions are subject to their appeals," Butt said.

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