Hampshire star Afridi: Get set to be entertained

Pakistan's Shahid Afridi
Pakistan's Shahid Afridi
Hampshire's James Vince hits a six during the NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston, Birmingham. PPP-170309-212743001

Hampshire start T20 Blast campaign against Glamorgan

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Shahid Afridi is hoping he will be allowed to make up for lost time as he awaits news on whether he can spearhead Hampshire’s defence of their domestic t20 crown.

The Pakistan all-rounder was due to sign for the Royals for the successful 2010 campaign that ended in a thrilling last-ball success in the final, only to be persuaded to make a late return to captain his country in Test cricket.

But his involvement in tonight’s curtain-raiser against Somerset at the Rose Bowl (7.10pm) was thrown into doubt yesterday when the Pakistan Cricket Board revoked his permission to play for supposed breaches of his central contract after his retirement from international cricket this week.

Unless things can be smoothed over before the game, he may have to kick his heels while the matter is resolved.

Speaking before the news broke of his possible suspension, he said: ‘I’ve retired because of this cricket board but when this board finishes, I will definitely come back.

‘I’m enjoying my cricket and people want to see me in international cricket so definitely I will play again.

‘But for now, I am concentrating on doing well for Hampshire.’

While that long-awaited appearance may have to wait a little longer, the big-hitting all-rounder is eager to get started with his new side.

He said: ‘It’s an honour for me to play for Hampshire.

‘It was my plan last year as well but I was busy because of international commitments.

‘I’m here to do well for Hampshire and I will give 110 per cent.

‘What happened last year was last year. This is a new competition but this team is full of talent and we can win this competition again.

‘I think t20 cricket is great entertainment.

‘For people who don’t know cricket so well, this is the right game to show how entertaining cricket can be.

‘It’s good fun to play and I enjoy myself.’

The arrival of a box office superstar like Afridi – politics permitting – has given Dominic Cork’s side a vital injection at the ideal time after a dreadful start to the domestic season.

But he is not the only new quality recruit with fellow overseas signing Imran Tahir and Michael Lumb both fit and available for the Somerset showdown.

And Afridi is looking forward to working under a captain he knows well from his years in the game.

Afridi said: ‘It’s been very good so far. I have some good team-mates and Corky the captain is full of entertainment.

‘He’s a very experienced guy as well so it’s good fun playing with these guys.

‘Corky is a good, positive guy who backs his team. It’s the right thing to back each other.

‘I can’t wait to play at the Rose Bowl again – I think it’s one of the most beautiful stadiums here in this country.

‘I’ve played two or three games at the Rose Bowl and I always enjoy playing here.’