After weeks of growing tension and speculation Shahid Afridi, Pakistan's recently axed one-day captain, has announced his retirement from the international game. It is, however, a "conditional" retirement in protest against the way he has been "humiliated" by the PCB, a temporary self-imposed exile more than a permanent retirement. Afridi said he was ready to reverse his decision if and when a new board came into power.
"There is nothing bigger than a man's respect, and the way the board has treated me, there is a limit to everything," an emotional, angry Afridi told Geo TV from London, where he is currently preparing for a T20 stint with Hampshire. "I will not play under this board. If a different board comes in, I will definitely return but I cannot play under this board. When you have been humiliated like this, by dishonourable people, what is the point in playing on?
"The way I've been treated ... the future doesn't look too good. I can't play under a board that doesn't respect its players. Because of this, under protest, this is a conditional retirement."
Afridi, a Pathan who has lived in Karachi all his life, also hit out at "a Lahore lobby that has been filling the chairman's ears against me," reviving an issue of regionalism that has been festering for some time now, and shows few signs of stopping; in recent weeks, Karachi officials have protested loudly against the PCB for not selecting players from the city.
The decision caps - for now - a saga that began last December effectively, when the board first began to hesitate in appointing Afridi captain. He was made leader for the New Zealand ODI series and then, only two weeks before the tournament began was he made captain for the World Cup. The impermanent nature of his appointments was one of the reasons for Afridi's unhappiness.
"I wasn't told anything when I was made captain, I wasn't given a tenure, I wasn't told what my squad would be, nothing," Afridi said. "I took a broken team along with me. When I took over the Pakistan team was in the middle of the spotfixing crisis. Then the Zulqarnain Haider case happened but my side fought both against England and South Africa in the ODI series. Then we beat New Zealand, we got to the semis of the World Cup and beat the West Indies there as well. Maybe I have become a thorn in their throats. Its better that I step aside for now as I have respect for myself."
Afridi will play in the Friends Provident t20 for Hampshire and he will also be available for the inaugural edition of the Sri Lankan Premier League, continuing to participate in domestic cricket in Pakistan as well.