Pakistan reacts to fast bowler's five-year ban April 2, 2008

Lawson regrets Shoaib's downfall

Cricinfo staff

Shoaib Akhtar and Geoff Lawson during better days © AFP
Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson expressed regret at the five-year ban imposed on Shoaib Akhtar by a PCB disciplinary committee, adding that the fast bowler would remain an unfulfilled talent.

"Whether he got banned today or not, there was always going to be some problem with Shoaib," Lawson told the Daily Telegraph. "He has so much ability but he lacks the responsibility that's needed to become a great fast bowler.

"At times he tried really hard for us, but you just never knew what to expect when you turned up to the ground. Personally, I wouldn't have banned him; I'd have made him earn his international place back by playing domestic cricket. It's always sad when you see a guy who doesn't fulfill his talent."

Lawson, in his recent tour report on the away series against India, had advised against Shoaib's selection for Tests, indicating that he had lost confidence in his abilities in the longer version of the game. But Lawson thought Shoaib would perform well in the Indian Premier League, to which the ban does not extend. "I reckon he'll go pretty well. We timed him in the nets last week and he was bowling over 93mph."

Meanwhile, Shoaib's ban brought out contrasting reactions in Pakistan, with Shafqat Rana, a national selector, saying that Shoaib deserved the ban. "Akhtar has been involved in a number of controversies, and in my view the ban is justified. The decision will set an example for other cricketers as well. And they will concentrate on their game," he told the Daily Times. "It is true that a person learns from his mistakes, but unfortunately the fast bowler made it a habit of repeating his mistakes. I think the board's zero tolerance policy should be commended."

But former captain Imran Khan criticised the PCB for its decision. "The ban on Shoaib and even on the players who have gone to play in the Indian Cricket League are unacceptable and will shake the foundations of our cricket system. We are losing good players to bad policies of the board."

Javed Miandad said that he was sorry for Shoaib while agreeing that he was involved in a lot of disciplinary cases. "I would like to add here that it is the result of the PCB's leniency towards Shoaib's blunders he did in the past. But now his [latest] offense is not that grave as several Pakistan Test cricketers in the past have done this type of wrong acts repeatedly and got away with those," Miandad told Dawn.

Hanif Abbasi, the newly-elected national assembly member from Rawalpindi, Shoaib's home-town, told a local TV channel that the ban was "unacceptable" and that it would be overturned when a change of guard came about in the PCB.