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Page last updated at 13:46 GMT, Tuesday, 25 May 2010 14:46 UK

Pakistan name Shahid Afridi as captain for England tour

Shahid Afridi playing against England
Afridi plays a typical shot during his last Test appearance at Old Trafford in 2006

All-rounder Shahid Afridi has been named as Pakistan captain for the tour to England after deciding to end a four-year absence from Test cricket.

The 30-year-old led Pakistan at the recent ICC World Twenty20 and now takes the job in all three forms of the game.

"I am ready to play Test cricket because I feel my country needs me," Afridi said earlier this week.

After the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka in June, Pakistan head to the UK to play series against Australia and England.

On Tuesday, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) named a 35-man "probables" squad, led by Afridi, to cover all three series, although they must reduce the squad to 15 players for the Asia Cup and are likely to decide on the final tour party for England in June.

It includes former captains Younus Khan and Shoaib Malik, who have appealed against the bans handed to them by the PCB - and would be able to play if the bans are overturned.

Both players recently signed for English counties, with Younus joining Surrey until mid-July and Malik signing to play Twenty20 cricket for Lancashire - although these deals would be placed in doubt if they win their appeals against their suspensions.


Meanwhile, Afridi has confirmed that his return to the Test arena will prevent him from playing Twenty20 cricket for Hampshire this season, as had been agreed.

"The chance to be the captain for the Asia Cup and of the tour of England was too big an opportunity for me to turn down," he told Hampshire's website.

""I am regretful that I am unable to take up my role at Hampshire, but look forward to seeing my compatriot Abdul Razzaq performing well and I will be looking out for Hampshire's results."

Pakistan cricket is currently under a cloud because of an inquiry into last winter's tour to Australia.

The investigation, being carried out by the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit, follows a series of dismal performances in Australia, where Pakistan lost every Test, one-day and Twenty20 international.

Afridi was banned for two Twenty20 matches for biting the ball during a match in Perth and after the tour was fined by the PCB, whose officials conducted their own inquiry into the dressing-room disharmony that dogged the team during the tour.

The inquiry also led to tour captain Mohammad Yousuf and former skipper Younus being banned from international cricket for an indefinite period, while Malik and pace bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan were banned for a year.

Pakistan have a hectic schedule in the next few months, as they face one-day internationals against Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh in the Asia Cup before they head to England in late June.

After warming up with several games against English counties, they will take on Australia in two Twenty20 internationals and two Tests in a "home" series hosted by England - as continuing concerns over security have prevented them staging international cricket in Pakistan for more than a year.

Younus Khan and Shoaib Malik
Younus and Malik are both appealing against the PCB bans handed to them

They then face England in four Tests, two Twenty20 internationals and five one-day internationals, concluding on 22 September.

Afridi has not played Test cricket since Pakistan's last tour to England in 2006, a tour that also ended in controversy following ball-tampering allegations at The Oval.

Explaining the decision to end his long absence from the five-day game, he said: "It has a very hard decision for me because I have wanted to devote more time to my family and playing all forms of the sport the year round has not been my cup of tea.

"That is why I avoided Test matches but after speaking to my family I have decided to resume playing Test matches because it is the need of the time."

Afridi, one of cricket's most exciting and charismatic performers, has scored 1,683 runs in 26 Tests, including five centuries, and taken 47 wickets with his leg-spin.

Pakistan "probables" squad for Asia Cup and tour of England: Shahid Afridi (capt), Salman Butt, Imran Farhat, Yasir Hameed, Khurram Manzoor, Shahzaib Hassan, Azhar Ali, Azeem Ghumman, Younus Khan, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Faisal Iqbal, Fawad Alam, Hassan Raza, Asad Shafiq, Umar Amin, Aamir Sajjad, Mohammad Hafeez, Abdul Razzaq, Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Sami, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan, Tanveer Ahmed, Aizaz Cheema, Danish Kaneria, Abdul Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar, Kamran Akmal (wk), Zulqarnain Haider (wk).

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see also
Inquiry into Pakistan series loss
21 May 10 |  Pakistan
No Lara as Surrey pick up Younus
18 May 10 |  Surrey
Lancs sign Malik for T20 campaign
11 May 10 |  Lancashire
Afridi named Pakistan T20 captain
19 Apr 10 |  Pakistan
Pakistan to ban Yousuf & Younus
10 Mar 10 |  Pakistan
Banned Afridi replaced by Malik
01 Feb 10 |  Cricket
Hampshire sign all-rounder Afridi
08 Jan 10 |  Hampshire
England host Pakistan v Australia
04 Mar 09 |  Cricket
Afridi takes temporary Test break
13 Apr 06 |  Pakistan
Asia Cup 2010
24 Jun 10 |  Cricket
Pakistan in England 2010
07 Sep 10 |  Cricket

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