Shoaib Akhtar banned for five years on indiscipline charge

Rawalpindi, Apr.1 : Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar was on Tuesday banned from playing cricket for five years by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) following a disciplinary hearing in Rawalpindi.

The 32-year-old, who was on a two-year probation for attacking team-mate Mohammad Asif with a bat, was charged with publicly criticising the PCB.

"We felt his presence damaged Pakistan cricket's image," the PCB said.

The ban covers domestic matches in Pakistan, but not the big-money Twenty20 Indian Premier League.

Shoaib has been plagued by injury and controversy since he began his international career in November 1997. He was twice sidelined over throwing allegations and was also banned for a breach of code on tour and ball-tampering.

In October 2006 he was banned for two years for testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone but this was later rescinded on appeal.

Then in January this year he was dropped from Pakistan's list of 15 contracted players. He was offered a special retainer but refused to sign.

PCB chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf described the outcome as a "sad day for me and for Shoaib Akhtar. He is such a talented player."

Ashraf added that Akhtar had the right to appeal against the decision.

Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria was also charged with statements against the board, but got away with a reprimand and a warning.

Kaneria had criticised his central contract demotion from category B to C in an online column, but later blamed a newspaper for publishing his words out of context.

"Since this was Kaneria's first offense on discipline, he has been severely reprimanded and barred from issuing any press statements," Ashraf said.

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Story first published: Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 19:16 [IST]
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