Pakistan news March 6, 2010

Shoaib to appeal against massive fine

Shoaib Akhtar has hit out at the Pakistan board's decision to deduct Rs 7 million ($82,353) from his annual earnings as punishment for a contested misdemeanor under the previous PCB regime.

Shoaib was banned for five years by Nasim Ashraf's administration in April 2008 for what it claimed were several violations of the players' disciplinary code of conduct. After an appeal, the ban was reduced in June to 18 months and the fine remained.

But Shoaib went to the Lahore High Court to appeal against that and the court immediately suspended the ban, but deferred judgment on the fine. Since then the current PCB administration said it sent reminders to Shoaib about the fine; having not received a reply, they deducted the entire amount last month from his annual earnings, which included his central contract payments, match fees and win bonuses (from January 2009 to November 2009).

Shoaib was due to earn Rs 7,044, 971 ($82,882) in that period but was instead sent a cheque for just Rs 44,971 ($529). He will contest the decision to deduct the fine. "I didn't even speak badly about a chairman, I just spoke about how wickets were poor in Nasim Ashraf's time [he had actually criticised the administration for demoting him in the central contracts category], so why has my money been deducted?" Shoaib said at the National Stadium in Karachi. "That is a lifetime earning for most people. I am just saying why has my money been deducted, on what basis? If they wanted to cut it, don't give me a central contract.

"The court did not give any such verdict that the board is saying that he can play but cut his money. The case I did was not just on playing but on the fine as well. All of that was suspended. I am appealing it now. I will take it further and I will not let it finish like this."

Shoaib recently returned to action after another lengthy lay-off due to major knee surgery. He led the Islamabad Leopards side in what was a virtual quarter-final against the Faisalabad Wolves in the RBS Twenty20 cup. His side was comprehensively beaten but Shoaib bowled his four overs on the trot, an impressive spell in which he picked up one wicket as well.

Though he hasn't represented Pakistan for almost a year and hasn't played a Test since December 2007, he refused to rule out a comeback to any of the formats. He will not, he insisted, go the route of an increasing number of fast bowlers, who have chosen to step away from five-day cricket to prolong their career in the limited-overs format.

"There is nothing on my mind about retiring from any formats," Shoaib said. "I will play Test cricket, ODI and Twenty20 as well. You have seen my pace today. This is my first match in five months and I had a big operation on my knee. No fast bowler makes a recovery so quickly but I have done and you can see it. Brett Lee has been unfit for seven months, Shaun Tait plays T20s, or the Champions Trophy or the World Cup. All the fastest bowlers in the world, Flintoff, Tait, Lee, we cannot play all year constantly."

Though Shoaib was not named in the 30 probables for the World Twenty20 in April, he retained hope that he could make his way in as a "wildcard" option. The arrival of a former fast bowler, Waqar Younis, as coach, he believes, might prove a boon.

"Pakistan should have a wildcard with them. Even Abdul Razzaq went last time like that. I don't know what the board wants or wants to see. I am bowling, I am fit. Playing me is up to the board, coach and selectors. Hopefully the PCB will realise this and bring me back in the 30 probables. For the first time there is a fast bowler coming in as coach who will understand fast bowlers. He can deal with fast bowlers properly, save them and help them excel."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo