Pakistan’s World Cup cricket campaign was rocked on Wednesday by reports of a row and strong differences between fielding coach Grant Luden and several senior players, including Shahid Afridi.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) denied reports that Luden had resigned. PCB media manager Agha Akbar also rejected reports of a rift between players and the team management.
Earlier, Pakistani media reports said Luden, dejected over the attitude of some players, resigned soon after Pakistan’s shock 76-run defeat to India, the team's sixth successive loss to their arch-rivals at the World Cup.
The team management put in a lot of effort to persuade Luden to withdraw his resignation after assuring him that his grievances would be addressed, the Pakistani daily Dawn quoted its sources as saying.
South Africa-born Luden also complained that Afridi, Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal had misbehaved with him during a training session on Tuesday, PTI reported.
“Luden sent a message to the PCB Chairman (Shahryar Khan) threatening to resign as he could not tolerate such insulting behaviour from the players,” a source was quoted as saying by PTI. He further complained that Afridi, Shehzad and Akmal “allegedly used abusive language”.
He was also upset that some players had expressed dissatisfaction at his working ways, the media reports said.
“Reports stating that there has been a tiff between three players, Afridi, Shehzad and Akmal, and fielding coach Luden and that the latter has resigned because of it, are absolutely false and that nothing of the sort has happened," said a PCB statement.
“The entire team trained together in Christchurch on Tuesday under the supervision of head coach Waqar Younis with each of the other coaches, where some players were put through their paces by all coaches, with Luden putting in an extra hour on both days with a select group of players,” the statement added.
Nevertheless, the PCB admitted Luden had offered to resign for “personal reasons” before the World Cup started.
“Subsequently, as his issues were resolved, he took his resignation back. The PCB and the team management as well as the boys hold the job he is doing in high esteem, and are keen that he continues to serve in his present role,” the statement said.
The Pakistan team is currently training ahead of its Pool B clash with West Indies on February 21.
Luden was appointed by former PCB chairman Najam Sethi in May last year on a two-year contract, after he was relieved by Bangladesh from the same position at the end of the 2014 World Twenty20 tournament.
His appointment came after Waqar Younis was hired as head coach, Mushtaq Ahmad as spin bowling coach and Grant Flower as batting coach.
The training regime implemented by Younis and his team of coaches has already apparently become a sore point with some players, who have complained they are left exhausted before matches by the tough schedule, PTI reported.
Even before the tournament started, eight members of Pakistan's 15-man squad – including Afridi and Shehzad – were fined $300 each by the management for breaking a curfew.