PCB clears Shoaib to play for Surrey

September 2nd, 2008 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 2 (IANS) The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has bent its rule of not allowing its fast bowlers from playing in the county circuit and cleared Shoaib Akhtar to sign up for Surrey.The PCB has a history of objecting to its fast bowlers playing in the English county circuit. Umar Gul and Ifthikar Rao were recently denied permission to play for the counties as the PCB felt it would affect their form and fitness.

Shoaib, who has shared a tumultuous relationship with the PCB, has been cleared as a special case as he attempts another comeback.

“Shoaib has not played competitive cricket for months and he needs to regain match fitness,” PCB’s chief operating officer Shafaqat Naghmi was quoted as saying in The Guardian.

“We believe a short county stint might help him in doing that. He requested a ‘No Objection Certificate’, which we have issued to him, and we have no problems if he wants to play county cricket.”

Shoaib, who has played little cricket for the last year and the ban against whom was overturned only recently, is hoping to gain fitness in order to press for a place in the national team.

The former Somerset, Worcestershire and Durham player was recalled to the Pakistan team for the limited overs Champions Trophy before it was postponed.

Naghmi said the PCB had a policy of not allowing its fast bowlers to play in county championship.

“We had stopped our fast bowlers from playing for counties because such stints had affected their form and fitness,” said Naghmi.

“Mohammad Asif and Rana Naved-ul-Hassan both suffered major injuries while playing county cricket. But Shoaib’s case is different. He hasn’t played much cricket this year - a county stint could actually benefit him.”

The fast bowler could be available for Surrey as early as next week as the county, adrift at the bottom of Division One by 18 points with three matches to go, plays a key game against Kent at Canterbury. But his debut may be hampered by league rules requiring overseas players to spend at least three weeks in England before playing.

Shoaib has had a career dogged by injury and controversy. The bowler was banned by the PCB, which claimed he had tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. The ban was later overturned on appeal.

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