Haider questions Akhtar, Afridi’s comments on Pak cricket

October 8th, 2011 - 8:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Shoaib Akhtar New Delhi, Oct 8 (IANS) Wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider, who had infamously fled from Pakistan’s series against South Africa last year, has questioned former players Shoaib Akhtar and Shahid Afridi’s criticism of Pakistan cricket.

Referring to Akhtar’s recent comments about ball tampering and Afridi’s criticism of the Pakistan board and team management, Haider asked why these players waited so long to come up with these statements.

“Both Afridi and Shoaib have earned a lot of respect and money through the system, and now when they see things are out of their hands they have started lashing out at the entire structure and culture of Pakistan cricket. Why at the end of their career,” Haider, 25, was quoted as saying in espncricinfo.

Haider had gone missing on the eve of the fifth ODI against South Africa in UAE last November because he had received death threats from bookies in Dubai. He later flew to London and announced his retirement from international cricket. He, however, has abandoned his retirement and is playing first-class cricket in Pakistan.

He, however, does not regret his decision.

“I know to the world I am a fool but to me I did the right thing. I was well aware I was risking my career but I opted to follow the righteous path.

“I am not like Afridi and Shoaib who when done with their career are now coming out busting the system. On the contrary, I was at the beginning of my career and I raised my voice against the odds, putting my career at risk without any fear,” he said.

Haider was fined Rs.500,000 ($5,800) by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for violating their code of conduct when he left the series in the UAE midway without informing the team management. The board also put him on probation from the national team for a year.

Haider, who kept wicket for Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Division One Thursday, said he now wants to work on rebuilding his cricketing career.

“I know I almost put my career at stake for which I have no regret,” he said. “In fact, I have inspired upcoming players to speak up against happenings around them instead of just going with the flow.”

“I have started my career again and it feels like I’m starting from scratch. I don’t know what prospects I have at the moment but cricket is my bread and butter and I had to get back to playing for my livelihood. I am young and have already lost plenty of cricket for various reasons.

“My passion for cricket is still alive and I am optimistic that I can put in performances that will catch the selectors’ eye. Playing for the country is always an honour and that desire never dies.”

Haider had played just one Test and four ODIs for Pakistan before his departure from Dubai.

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