Butt wants Afridi to concentrate on cricket

LAHORE: Former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt advised Shahid Afridi to concentrate on improving his batting and bowling skills to keep his place in the national side, rather than criticise the ex-administrator.

Last week, Afridi said that during Butt’s tenure Pakistan was hit by match-fixing scandals and that he was removed as ODI captain despite Pakistan making the semifinal of the 2011 World Cup.

“I always have felt very strongly that playing members should not make comments publicly,” Butt wrote in a letter that was sent to the allrounder on Saturday.

“When you retire, you can definitely make such comments about other well wishers of cricket.”

Butt started the war of words when he reportedly said that coach Dav Whatmore should be removed because his association with Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez was putting pressure on ODI captain Misbah-ul-Haq.

Afridi responded by saying that the squad setup was good and “everyone must support the team and the players.”

However, Butt reiterated his stance against Hafeez by saying that he doesn’t think the allrounder is the right man to lead Pakistan in any format of the game – Twenty20, tests or ODIs.

“Hafeez is a very good allrounder and can prove an asset to Pakistan cricket if he concentrates only on his cricketing activities,” Butt said in the letter. “I very strongly feel that he should not be made captain of any of the sides.”

Pakistan selectors have dropped veteran Younis Khan from the 30-man provisional list for Champions Trophy in England – a decision that does not go down well with Butt.

“This was very unfair,” Butt said. “All good cricketers have lien (lean) time. He had the lien (lean) time but won the Twenty20 World Cup when I made him the captain of the team.”

Butt also reminded Afridi that he enjoyed a very good friendship with new PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf and he just wants Pakistan cricket to flourish.

“Mr. Zaka Ashraf is not only known to me for over 40 years but he is also a good friend of mine,” Butt said. “My statement was basically as an advice to Mr. Zaka but I have never interfered in any of his working ever since he became PCB Chairman and I have the feeling that some people are not advising him sincerely in his cricketing activities.”

Afridi, who has not taken a wicket in his last six one-day internationals, also said last week he wanted to play until the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, provided he stays fit and continues to perform at the top level.

“For this my suggestion to you would be that you should work hard to improve your batting and bowling efforts. In the past you have been one of the best allrounders but in the recent times you have had a very lien (lean) time,” Butt wrote.

Butt also invited Afridi to meet him whenever he comes to Lahore to clear the air between the two.