Dashing batsman Shahid Afridi has expressed his concern over the future of cricket in Pakistan. He said he is worried by the declining standards that have seen his country struggle in the recent past. The former captain has urged the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to focus more on the basics and at the junior level.
The maverick cricketer, who resigned as skipper of the T20 team following their disappointing performances in both the Asia Cup T20 and the ICC T20 World Cup, has expressed a desire to set up academies to groom future talent.
Speaking to the media, Afridi said: "The way I see it right now we don't have much real talent in the background. I can't pinpoint any cricketer with certainty. I think the board should pay attention to school cricket and work at the grassroots level."
"We need to build proper academies in each city and talented kids can use the facilities. Right now, the boys only learn once they get selected into the national team. Proper training and diving skills should be learnt at U16 and U19 level academies."
The 36-year-old was dropped by the new selection committee headed by Inzamam-ul-Haq for the tour of England in July. However, Afridi said he had already informed the board of his non-availability.
"I am just focussing on T20 cricket and I had informed the board about my commitment in English county cricket this summer. But I will work hard on my form and fitness in order to make the Pakistan team."
Pakistan play a solitary T20 game in England this summer and two more in October against West Indies. Considering that Afridi has retired from both Test and One Day International (ODI) cricket, it will be sometime before fans can see him in international colours.