Afridi preaches unity
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi says his side are fully united ahead of the first Test against Australia at Lord's.
Last Updated: 12/07/10 6:36pm
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi says his side are fully united ahead of the first Test against Australia at Lord's, starting on Tuesday.
Afridi will be leading his country in the five-day format for the first time, having inherited the captaincy - something of a poisoned chalice in recent times - from Mohammad Yousuf in the wake of a disastrous tour Down Under at the turn of the year.
Yousuf was among four players, also including another former skipper Younus Khan, to banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board in the aftermath of a trip that was beset by rumours of dressing room unrest and featured no victories.
Younus' ban was subsequently lifted on appeal but he was not selected for the two-match series against Australia, which is taking place in England due to the security situation in Pakistan.
Yousuf is also absent as he chose not to challenge his ban, leaving Afridi in charge of a relatively inexperienced team.
The 30-year-old has adopted an inclusive style on man-management to ensure there is no repeat of previous episodes of infighting.
"The guys are united," he said. "I am trying to keep the guys as close as I can. I take them for dinner and the communication problem is not there now.
"We sit together and chat to each other. If they have any problems they can come to me and the coach and share them.
"It is a difficult job, especially with the different cultures, and the different cities. But the thing is I respect these guys and whatever their problems are I listen and talk to the management.
"They are feeling good playing with my captaincy. I am trying to be a good man-manager."
Pakistan won both Twenty20 internationals against Australia at Edgbaston last week and Afridi feels they can build on that.
Australia, however, have won the last 12 Tests between the two countries, a run that dates back to 1999.
"Test cricket is different but winning in any form of the game keeps morale high. We are confident," added Afridi.
"It is a good time. They don't have the same players like (Shane) Warne, (Glenn) McGrath and (Matthew) Hayden. It is a totally different team. This is a time you can take these guys.
"Australia are the world's best side and we are in a rebuilding process. It will be a tough series especially playing against Australia but we are confident.
"The youngsters are very talented and have good temperaments. It is very exciting, especially for the youngsters who haven't played in England.
"It is a dream come true for these guys and they are all very focused."