Afridi ends self-imposed exile from Test cricket

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Shahid Afridi said he would end his self-imposed exile from Test cricket, saying he was now ready to play the longer form of the game for his country.

Updated: May 23, 2010 10:56 IST
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Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi said he would end his self-imposed exile from Test cricket and was now ready to play the longer form of the game for his country.

"I am ready to play Test cricket because I feel that my country needs me... and in this time of need I would not let my team and the country down," Afridi said.

Citing family commitments in 2006 after playing the last of his 26 Tests, against England in Manchester, the 30-year-old had scored 1,683 runs, five centuries and took 47 wickets in Test matches.

"My father was ill and my family wanted more attention from me so I was mainly focusing on the shorter forms of the game, but now we have to play six Tests in England and my team needs me, so I am available," said Afridi.

Appointed captain of the Twenty20 squad after regular captain Younus Khan retired from the format last year, Afridi led Pakistan to the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 in the West Indies last week.

He is now tipped to lead Pakistan in next month's Asia Cup, to be held in Sri Lanka from June 15-24, and his availability for Tests makes him favourite to lead the team on the tour of England as well.

After the Asia Cup, Pakistan will play two Twenty20 matches and two Tests against Australia in England before taking on England in four Tests, five one-day and two Twenty20 matches from July to September.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is due to appoint the captain for both the Asia Cup squad and the tour of England on Tuesday.

Pakistan have had no one-day or Test captain since their disastrous December-January tour of Australia, in which they lost all three Tests, five one-day matches and a Twenty20 match.

Following that tour, the PCB banned former captains Younus Khan and Mohammad Yousuf indefinitely because of "infighting which let the team down".

Another former captain, Shoaib Malik, and Rana Naved-Ul-Hasan were banned for one year and fined, while Afridi, Kamran Akmal and Umar Akmal received heavy fines and were placed on six-month probation.

Afridi said the Asia Cup and tour to England will be challenging.

"We have not played enough Test cricket in the recent past... but if we play to our potential and with unity, we can do well," he said.

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