KARACHI: The emergent nature of Pakistan pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi’s departure to England from Dubai during the Asia Cup may have caused “missing clarity” between the player and the country’s cricket board leading to the latest controversy surrounding both parties, Pakistan cricket chief Ramiz Raja suggested on Friday.

Shaheen was flown to London on August 29 — a day after the Pakistan kicked off their Asia Cup campaign in Dubai — for “uninterrupted, dedicated knee specialist care” for an injury he picked up during the national side’s tour to Sri Lanka in July.

The team management’s initial plan was to keep him with the squad during the tournament and the preceding One-day International series against Netherlands.

The controversy surfaced Thursday when former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, who is Shaheen’s father in law, alleged the left-armer was financing his stay and treatment in London.

“Shaheen Afridi has gone to England on his own, he has even paid for his own ticket,” Afridi said local television. “Shaheen is financing his stay in England himself.

Afridi further claimed it was he who “arranged a doctor” for Shaheen in the UK, adding that the PCB was “providing nothing for Shaheen.”

According to PCB chairman Ramiz, it could have been “Shaheen flying to Dubai in a hurry” that might have created confusion over the matter.

“There might be a possibility of some missing clarity because Shaheen had to depart for Dubai in a hurry, maybe there was a ticketing issue,” Ramiz said during an online interaction with fans on Friday.

“He didn’t like the place which was initially planned for him to stay in and then he went somewhere else,” added the former Pakistan Test skipper.

Ramiz expressed dejection over the controversy sparked by Afridi’s comments, stressing that it was unimaginable for the PCB to “disown” a player of Shaheen’s stature.

“How can one even think that someone will disown Shaheen Shah Afridi and that too his parent body,” he exclaimed.

“This can never happen, it doesn’t satisfy logic and the controversy that has sparked is unfortunate.”

The 60-year-old referred to the response of the PCB’s doctor’s panel when wicket-keeper/batsman Mohammad Rizwan was hospitalized ahead of last year’s T20 World Cup semi-final against Australia.

“Who took care of Rizwan when he fell ill at the T20 World Cup? Our doctors panel spent sleepless nights to ensure he reaches full fitness ahead of the match,” said Ramiz.

The PCB chief reassured players were the “most important stakeholders” for the board, which, Ramiz claimed, was doing exemplary service to the players.

“What we are doing for the players, no cricket board has done it,” Ramiz said. “The doctors’ panel is ours, there’s no way we could isolate him like this.”

Ramiz was echoing a late-night statement by the PCB, which seemed to be in response to Afridi’s comments. The board said it was “responsible for arranging medical care and rehabilitation” of all its players who required treatment.

The PCB added Shaheen was making “excellent progress in his rehabilitation in London” and was on track to make a full recovery in time for the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia.

“It goes without saying that the PCB has always been and will continue to be responsible for arranging medical care and rehabilitation of all its players requiring any treatment,” the board’s statement read.

According to ESPNCricinfo, Afridi’s claims about Shaheen managing his treatment on his own were true. Following the former all-rounder’s comments, PCB had promised Shaheen a reimbursement, the report added.

The authorities at the rehabilitation centre in England will allow Shaheen to start bowling at the start of next month and he will join the squad without having played a match in almost three months as he will also not be part of the Pakistan squad for their tri-series in New Zealand, which also features Bangladesh, ahead of the World Cup.

Meanwhile, the PCB added that batter Fakhar Zaman will depart for London on Friday to undergo rehabilitation.

“Fakhar had landed awkwardly on his right knee while fielding during the T20 Asia Cup final in Dubai,” it said in the press release.

“As per the protocols, the PCB has scheduled his medical appointments with specialists who will be providing the best medical care for his rehabilitation.

“During his stay in London, the PCB will make all relevant logistical arrangements for Fakhar and he will remain under the supervision of the PCB Advisory Panel, which includes Dr Imtiaz Ahmad and Dr Zafar Iqbal, which is also treating Shaheen Shah Afridi.”

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2022

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