Latif cries foul on overcrowded schedule

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Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif has slammed the International Cricket Council and its members for cramming up the calendar, leaving no scope for players to take a breather.

The ex-wicketkeeper was especially scathing on the recent Sri Lanka-Pakistan series in Abu Dhabi and the Afro-Asia Cup matches in India claiming no player was looking forward to these inter-continental matches.

"The World Cup has just finished and we had these festival type One-day games between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi that created no interest. Now we have these Afro-Asia Cup matches in which no national pride is even involved. What is the purpose of organising such games except to make money," Latif said.

The Asia eleven plays the Africa eleven first in a Twenty20 match on Tuesday and than engaged in three One-Day Internationals on June 6, 9 and 10 in Bangalore and Chennai.

Six Pakistan players, captain Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Yousuf, Mohammad Asif, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal and Imran Nazir will be in action during the series.

"Since these matches are approved by the ICC we just have to go and play them," Malik said before leaving for India.

Leading players like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga have already pulled out of the series while the Pakistan Cricket board has stopped fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar from playing saying he was still not match fit after his knee injury.

Akhtar has played just one Test and four One-Day Internationals in the last 14-months.

Latif said the ICC and its board’s member needed to ensure proper rest periods for players in between official series.

"They must not forget that there is also the danger of cricket as a sport suffering from lack of interest and sponsorship because of an overdose. Already we have had cases where organisers are finding it difficult to find broadcasters and sponsors for such series," he said.

There were other ways to raise funds for development purposes which were not a burden on the players, Latif said.

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