Pakistan bans Shoaib Akhtar

2008-04-01 00:00

KARACHI — Temperamental fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar was banned for five years by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) yesterday for repeated disciplinary violations.

Board chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf told a news conference that the suspension was imposed on the recommendation of the PCB disciplinary committee and the paceman had the right to appeal.

The 32-year-old Akhtar’s international career will almost certainly be over unless he gets the ban overturned. He described the punishment as harsh and unjustified and said he is ready to take court action to fight it.

“He can’t play for Pakistan or anywhere in Pakistan. But he can play in the Indian Premier League, which is not in our jurisdiction,” said Ashraf.

Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria (27), who like Akhtar criticised board policies when the new central contracts were announced in January, escaped with a reprimand and warning.

Akhtar, who has appeared in 46 Tests and 138 One-Day Internationals and was ranked among the fastest bowlers of the modern era, was dropped from the list of contracts, while Kaneria was demoted.

Yesterday’s announcement came after the two players appeared before the disciplinary committee in Rawalpindi.

“He [Akhtar] was already under a two-year probation period from last year,” said Ashraf. “He committed repeated offences of indiscipline from 2004 to 2008, around 15 in total.

“We gave him lots of chances in the past, but he reached a stage where he had become damaging for himself and Pakistan cricket and a habitual offender.

“The board has lost confidence in Shoaib Akhtar.”

Ashraf said Akhtar’s presence in the dressing room was damaging the team. “It is a sad moment for me, Pakistan cricket and Shoaib Akhtar,” added the PCB chairman. “But there can be no compromises on discipline, a line has to be drawn somewhere.

“We gave him a lot of chances to mend his ways. We have no animosity towards him, but we want to protect our team and make it a disciplined unit.”

The fast bowler, dubbed the “Rawalpindi Express”, said he was shocked by the PCB’s decision.

“This ban comes as a shock because I apologised for my statements and actions to the disciplinary committee today,” Akhtar told reporters. “I will go to court if I have to and fight this ban.

“I have always given 100% for the national team. How can they accuse me of being a damaging influence on the team?”

Akhtar escaped a doping ban in December 2006 when he appealed against a two-year suspension imposed on him after he tested positive for a banned substance before the Champions Trophy in India the same year.

He said playing for Pakistan means everything to him.

“I bowled with a high fever during the recent Test series in India,” said Akhtar. “I did it for the team.

“I have had problems here and there, but I have always respected my seniors and got along well with my juniors.

“For me, nothing is more important than playing for Pakistan. It is hard to bear with this stigma attached to me.”

In October, Akhtar was put on a two-year probation and banned for 13 international matches for four breaches of discipline, including striking team-mate Mohammad Asif with a bat before the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa.

Former Pakistan captain Intikhab Alam supported the five-year ban.

“Enough is enough,” said Intikhab. “No doubt he is a very good cricketer and one of the fastest bowlers I have seen, but discipline has to be maintained.”

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