Pakistan's iconic former captain Imran Khan said Wednesday the public row between management and all-rounder Shahid Afridi was akin to a "suicide attack" that could sink cricket into deeper turmoil.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) suspended Afridi's contract and revoked permission for him to play abroad to punish his recent decision to retire from international cricket and criticise the board.
Afridi went to court on Tuesday, demanding that the sanctions be overturned. The court adjourned a PCB disciplinary committee meeting set for Wednesday and summoned PCB officials to appear in court on Thursday.
"This case is another suicide attack on Pakistan cricket," Khan told AFP. "I don't know why Pakistan cricket keeps inflicting suicide attacks on itself which are damaging for the game in a country already reeling under problems."
Khan, who led Pakistan to their only World Cup title in 1992 and now heads his own political party Tehreek-e-Insaaf, blamed the saga on a lack of unaccountability among the PCB.
"The reason why Pakistan cricket remains in turmoil is because there is no stability, no institutionalism in decision making and because the head of the board is appointed by the president of Pakistan and is not accountable," he said.
Khan said that only Pakistan opposes a proposed amendment to the constitution of the International Cricket Council (ICC) that would suspend members appointed by government.
"Because there is government involvement in our cricket, the PCB is opposing the proposed change in the ICC constitution. If the change comes about it will make the PCB a proper institution," said Khan.
He said frequent changes in the captaincy have destabilised the team.
"I still can't understand how can you change Younis Khan six months after he led Pakistan to the World Twenty20 title," said Khan. Younis was forced out after a players' revolt against him in November 2009.
"How can Afridi be replaced a month after leading Pakistan to the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup? A few days ago he was showered with praise and prizes and he had started to stabilise the team.
Stating his belief that "no one is a born captain", Khan said Pakistan's leading players suffer because the standard of domestic cricket is poor making it hard to gain experience leading a side outside internationals.
Afridi publicly criticised coach Waqar Younis for "undue meddling" in the team's selection during Pakistan's tour of the West Indies last month. The PCB subsequently replaced him as captain.
"A coach's role is subservient to captain. Cricket is the only game where the captain's role superior and no coach can take the lead. The PCB should have defined the roles of the captain and the coach," said Khan.
"Look at India where captain (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni is the man in charge. Ricky Ponting used to take the lead in the Australian team and the coach sits behind the scenes. It's quite clear."
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