Pakistan’s World Cup campaign was rocked by fresh allegations of unrest on Wednesday (February 18) when reports claimed that fielding coach Grant Luden was involved in a heated row with senior players.
Even before the tournament started, eight members of Pakistan’s 15-man squad – including Shahid Afridi and Ahmed Shehzad – were fined $300 (£194) each by team management for breaking a curfew.
Days later Pakistan suffered a 76-run defeat by defending champions India in their tournament opener in Adelaide, the team’s sixth successive loss to their arch-rivals at the World Cup.
Initial reports in the Pakistan media on Tuesday said Luden had resigned after an argument with Afridi, opener Shehzad and batsman-cum wicketkeeper Umar Akmal following last Sunday’s Pool B loss.
“Luden had a serious argument with some senior players and out of frustration resigned,” a source in the Pakistan camp said.
Luden, a member of Pakistan coach Waqar Younis’s backroom staff, was hired as fielding coach in May last year on a two-year contract.
But the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) denied Luden had resigned after the India match.
“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 issued on Wednesday.
“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 also admitted Luden had offered to resign before the World Cup started.
“A few days prior to the start of the World Cup 2015, Luden had expressed his desire that for personal reasons, he would want to be relieved of his duties sometime in May 2015,” the board statement said.
“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.”
Pakistan also has former Zimbabwe batsman Grant Flower as its batting coach. The team continue their World Cup campaign against the West Indies in Christchurch on Saturday.