CA officials want Afridi to play in Big Bash League

Shahid Afridi of the South Australian Redbacks in action during the Big Bash league in 2009 Getty Images

Melbourne: Jun 2, 2011

Despite PCB revoking Shahid Afridi’s NOC barring him from playing in the foreign leagues, Cricket Australia officials have expressed their desire to rope in the flamboyant all-rounder for this year’s Big Bash Twenty20 tournament.

After the former Pakistan captain announced his retirement from international cricket following his stand-off with PCB chairman Ijaz Butt, several of the eight teams featuring in the Big Bash have shown their interest in signing Afridi, who had a successful stint in the event two years ago.

A number of other states also indicated their interest in explosive West Indian opener Chris Gayle, whose ongoing tussle with the country’s cricket board following a radio interview resulted in his omission from the one-off T20 International and first two ODIs against India starting on Saturday.

Stuart Clark, general manager of the Sydney Sixers, said he would be interested in speaking to these players for his side, which is based at the SCG.

“I hadn’t thought about Afridi until I heard on the radio that he had quit,” Clark was quoted as saying by ‘The Australian’.

“We would be interested depending on what he wants. If he wants to come here, I am willing to talk to him,” Clark added. Afridi suffered a setback yesterday when English county Hampshire said it would not be playing the all-rounder in their Twenty20 league after PCB revoked the requisite NOC.

The NOC’s were issued to Afridi to play for Hampshire and in the inaugural Sri Lankan Premier League next month. Afridi, one of the most explosive batsmen in the world, played for South Australia in the Big Bash two years ago and impressed all.

“He was excellent and all the reports were that he was brilliant among the team,” Clark said. Afridi’s fall-out with the PCB enables him to play in the Sri Lankan, English county and Australian Twenty20 competitions.

The eight sides in this season’s Big Bash are likely to be allowed four contracted Australian players and four internationals, but with only two of the latter in the team at any time. Afridi, Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga are all understood to be on the minds of the eight city-based teams. All have played in the Big Bash before.

Big Bash sides qualify for the lucrative Twenty20 Champions League.