Shoaib Akhtar’s appeal to be heard Thursday

April 15th, 2008 - 11:06 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead, changing dateline)

Lahore, April 15 (IANS) Banned fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar will get an indication Thursday which way his appeal, made to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to rescind the five-year ban for breach of discipline, was headed even as the controversial Pakistani got support from a key member of parliament. The first meeting of an appellate tribunal will be held here at the Gadaffi Stadium to hear the appeal made by the controversial bowler, who was banned for five years April 1 for repeated violations of the players’ code of conduct. Akhtar, 32, was, however, given the right to appeal against the ban imposed by a PCB disciplinary committee.

The PCB said in a one-paragraph statement here Tuesday that the tribunal, headed by Justice (retired) Aftab Farrukh and comprising Salmaan Taseer and Haseeb Ahsan, would start at 5:30 p.m. at the Gadaffi Stadium.

Despite the ban from international cricket, Akhtar, who has captured 178 wickets in 46 Tests and 219 in 138 One-Day Internationals, could still play in domestic tournaments. He cannot, however, play in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), starting in Bangalore Friday.

Akhtar was signed for $425,000 for IPL Kolkata Knight Riders, owned by Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan and others.

Enver Baig, a member of Pakistani Senate’s committee on sports, has termed the ban as unjustified.

“The committee called up officials of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Akhtar, and the meeting lasted for three hours. We feel that some people have settled their scores by banning Akhtar,” Baig was quoted as saying by The News.

After the PCB disciplinary committee banned him for publicly criticising the board after failing to secure annual central contracts in January, Akhtar he would not accept the punishment as claimed he was being made a scapegoat and he also threatened to move the court against the ban. But he later changed his mind.

Akhtar was banned as he was while still under a two-year probation for hitting team mate and Mohammed Asif with a bat just before the Twenty20 World Cup started in South Africa in September last year.

“We have analysed the charges against Akhtar. Criticising the PCB was not as big a crime that he was banned for five years,” said Baig, who also demanded that the new government sack incumbent PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf.

“The cricket administration needs a revamp because they are not professionals and they have damaged Pakistani cricket,” said Baig, a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party, which leads the national coalition government.

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